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Full text of "Across the sub-Arctics of Canada, a journey of 3,200 miles by canoe and snow shoe through the Hudson Bay region"

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The original of tiiis book is in 
tine Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
the United States on the use of the text. 

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Including a List of Plants collected on the way, a Vocabulary 

of Eskimo Words, and a Map showing 

the Route of the Expedition. 

With new Illustrations from Photographs taken on the Journey, 
and from Drawings by 






Copyright, Canada, 1908, 
by James Williams Tyrrell. 


In preparing a third edition of this book, which has been 
out of print for several years, the only apology I have to 
offer is that which has been passed on to me from the pub- 
lishers, viz., the continued demand for copies. In doing so 
I wish to state that not only has the original edition been 
carefuUy revised, but that most of my illustrations are 
entirely new, and that new maps and new chapters have been 
added, descriptive of the hunting and habits of musk-oxen, 
and the history, resources and navigation of our great inland 
saltwater system, Hudson Bay and Strait. I wish also to 
acknowledge the kindness of Messrs. W. W. Cory, Deputy 
Minister, and James White, Geographer, of the Department 
of the Interior, for the use of plates of the Dominion map, 
and further, to say that most of the photographs from which 
my illustrations are made were taken by my brother, J. B. 
Tyrrell, without whose direction and courage our expedi- 
tion of 1893 could not have been. 

To my brother, therefore, with most kindly wishes, is this 
vohime dedicated. 

J. W. Ttereli.. 
October 26th, 1908. 




I. ToEONTo TO Athabasca Landing 9 

II. Down the Athabasca - 19 

III. Running the RAPros - ■ 34 

IV. Chipewyan to Black Lake - 45 

v. Into the Unknown Wilderness 65 

VI. The Home of the Cabibou 73 

VII. A Gbeat Frozen Lake 82 

VIII. On the Lower Dubawnt 93 

IX. Hunting the Musk-ox 105 

X. Meeting with Natives 113 

XI. The Eskimos - 123 

XII. Occupations of the Eskimos 139 

XIII. Down to the Sea - 162 

XIV. Adventures by Land and Sea - 170 
XV. Polar Bears 177 

XVI. Lite or Death? - 185 

XVII. Fort Churchill - - 194 

XVIII. On Snowshoes and Dog-sleds 202 

XIX. Crossing the Nelson 210 

XX. Through the Forest and Home Again - 219 

XXI. Hudson Bay a National Asset - 229 


I. Plants Collected on the Expedition - 253 

II. Eskimo Vocabulabt of Words and Phrases - - 277 


J. W. Tyrrell Frontispiece 

Map of Canada, showing Route op Tyrrell Expedition - 8 

Some op Our Men - 11 

J. B. Tyrrell 12 

Hudson's Bay Company Traders H 

An H. B. C. Interpreter 15 

A Pioneer of the North 16 

Indians op the Canadian North-West 18 

Tranquil Waters 21 

Moose Calf and Its Captors 2& 

Scows AT the Head op Grand Rapids 26- 

Trooper R. N.-W. Mounbed Police in Winter Uniform 26 

Steamer " Athabasca " 28 

Grand Rapids, Athabasca River - 30 

English-Chipewyan Halp-Breed 31 

A Tattooed Cree Chief 32 

Shooting a Rapid 3& 

Store, Fort McMurray 38 

An Indian Camp - 40 

Steamer " Gbahame " 41 

Ashore for Lunch - 43 

Fobt Chipewyan, Lake Athabasca 46 

Landikg Goods prom the Steamer 48 

Sailboats on Lake Athabasca 4& 

LiANDiNG ON North Shore of Lake Athabasca - - 51 

A Clump of Jack-pines 53 

A York Boat under Sail 54 

A York Boat at a River Landing 56 

Indian Log House 59 

Cataract, Stone River - 60 

On the Portage 62 

Rafts Loaded with Venison 63 

Neck Developed by the Tump-line - - 64 

Starting Off on the Trail - 66 

An Bnglish-Cbee Trapper 72 

The Dubawnt River - 75 

Rapids on the Dubawnt River - 76 

Herd op Barren Ground Caribou 80 

A Forest of Antlers - 81 

The Flag Floating at " Caribou Camp " - - 83 

Ice on the Shore op Maekham Lake - 84 

A Good Catch - 86 




Rapids on the Loweb Dubawnt ■ - - • 94 

Eskimo Lodge, Dubawnt Rivee - - 96 

Typical Barren Lands Rapid 99 

Eskimo Cairn, Aberdeen Lake - 103 

Musk-oxen . - 104 

The Hunter Hunted - - - 111 

Eskimo Women and Children 118 

Group op Eskimos 119 

Eskimos in Kyacks 121 

Eskimo Man and Woman - 122 

Wooden Snowgoggles 129~ 

Section through Eskimo Igloo 131 

Eskimo Kyacks 135 

The Author in Eskimo Costume - 137 

Eskimo Sleeping-bag - 138 

Eskimo Implements and Weapons • 140 

Eskimo Hunters 143 

Eskimo Lance, Harpoons and Speahs 147 

Eskimo Games and Toys 154 

Ruins of Eskimo Lodges, Chesterfield Inlet 169 

Exploring Rankin Inlet, Hudson Bay 176 

An Encounter with Polar Bears 183 

The Last Meal — A Gloomy Outlook - 190 

■Camp Scene on West Shore, Hudson Bay 193 

H. B. Co.'s Post, Fort Churchill 195 

Coast Boats and Church, Fort Churchill 195 

Rev. Joseph Lofthouse and Family - • 197 

Facsimile op Drawing on Rock at Sloops Cove - 199 

Ruins op Fort Prince of Wales — Exterior View - - 200 

Ruins of Fort Prince of Wales — Interior View - - 201 
J. B. Tyrrell in Eskimo Costume (Leaving Fobt Churchill) - 202 

Facsimile of Inscription on Rock at Sloops Cove - 209 

Half-breed Dog-driver - - - 210 

H. B. Co.'s Store, York Factory - 218 

Our Sled Party Drawn Up at a Deserted Cabin - 222 

Norway House, Lake Winnipeg - - 225 

An H. B. Co.'s Trading-post in Winter - - 226 

Our Party on the Return Trip - - 228 

Dog-train and Carryall - - 228 

Map op Churchill Harbor - - - 230 

Map op Hudson Bay Route - - . 252 

, A Cree Hunter's Prize - ... 252 
Carrying the Mail to Moose Factory .... 276 


Across the Sub-Arctics of Canada 



One beautiful May morning several years ago, in response 
to a telegram from Ottawa, I took train at Hamilton for 
Toronto, to meet my brother, J. Burr Tyrrell, of the Cana- 
dian Geological Survey, and make final arrangements for a 
trip to the North. 

He had been authorized by the Director of that important 
department of the Canadian Government to conduct, in 
•company vyith myself, an exploratory survey through the 
great mysterious region of terra incognita commonly known 
as the Barren Lands, more than two hundred thousand square 
miles in extent, lying north of the 59th parallel of latitude, 
between Great Slave Lake and Hudson Bay. Of almost this 
entire territory less was known than of the remotest districts 
of " Darkest Africa," and, with but few exceptions, its vast 
and dreary plains had never been trodden by the foot of man, 
save that of the dusky savage. 

During a former journey my brother had obtained some 
information concerning it from the Chipewyan Indians in 
the vicinity of Athabasca and Black lakes, but even these 
native tribes were found to have only the vaguest ideas of 
the character of the country that lay beyond a few days' 
journey inland. 

In addition tn this meagre information, he had procured 



sketch-maps of several canoe routes leading northward toward 
the Barren Lands. The most easterly of these routes com- 
menced at a point on the north shore of Black Lake, and the 
description obtained of it was as follows: "Beginning at 
Black Lake, you make a long portage northward to .a little 
lake, then cross five or six more small ones and a correspond- 
ing number of portages, and a large body of water called 
Wolverine Lake will be reached. Pass through this, and 
ascend a river flowing into it from the northward, until Active 
Man Lake is reached. This lake will take two days to cross, 
and at its northern extremity the Height of Land will be 
reached. Over this make a portage until another large lake 
of about equal size is entered. From the north end of this 
second large lake, a great river flows to the northward through 
a treeless country unlmown to the Indians, but inhabited by 
savage Eskimos. Where the river empties into the sea we 
cannot tell, but it flows a great way to the northward." 

From the description given, it appeared that this river 
must flow through the centre of the unexplored territory, and 
thence find its way either into the waters of Hudson Bay 
or into the Arctic Ocean. It was by this route we resolved 
to carry on the exploration, and, if possible, make our way 
through the Barren Lands. 

One of the first and most important preparations for the 
journey was the procuring of suitable boats, inasmuch as 
portability, strength and carrying capacity were all essential 
qualities. These were obtained from the Peterboro' Canoe 
Company, who furnished us with two beautiful varnished 
cedar canoes, eighteen feet in length, and capable of carrying 
two thousand pounds each, while weighing only one hundred 
and twenty pounds. Arrangements had also been made to 
have a nineteen-foot basswood canoe, used during the previous 
summer, and two men in readiness at Fort McMurray on 
the Athabasca Biver. 

Four other canoemen were chosen to complete the party, 



three of them being Iroquois experts from Caughnawaga, 
Quebec. These three were brothers, named Pierre, Louis and 
Michel French. Pierre was a veteran canoeman, being as 
much at home in a boiling rapid as on the calmest water. 
For some years he had acted as ferryman at Caughnawaga, 
and only recently had made a reputation for himself by 

Pierre. Flett. Corrigal. Michel. Louis. 


running the Lachine Kapids on Christmas day, out of sheer 
bravado. His brother Louis had won some distinction also 
through having accompanied Lord Wolseley as a voyageur on 
his Egyptian campaigns; while Michel, the youngest and 
smallest of the three, was known to be a good steady fellow, 
boasting of the same distinction as his brother Louis. 



The other man, a half-breed named John Flett, was en- 
gaged at Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. He was highly recom- 
mended, not so much as a canoeman, as being an expert 
portager of great experience in northern travel, and also an 
Eskimo linguist. 

The two men, James Corrigal and Erangois Maurice, who 
through the kindness of Mr. Moberly, the officer of the Hud- 
son's Bay Company at Isle-a-la-Crosse, were engaged to meet 
us with a third canoe at Eort McMurray, were also western 
half-breeds, trained in the use of the pack-strap as well as the 
paddle, and were a pair of fine strong fellows. Thus it was 
arranged to combine in our party the best skill both of canoe- 
men and portagers. 

Our reasons for not employing Indians from Lake Atha- 
basca were, that these natives had on nearly all previous 
expeditions proved to be unreliable. Such men as Ave had 
engaged, unlike these Indians, were free from any dread of 
the Eskimos, and as we would advance they would soon be- 
come entirely dependent on us as their guides. Besides, they 
were more accustomed to vigorous exertion at the paddle and 
on the portage than the local Indians, who arc rather noted 
for their proficiency in taking life easy. 

Next in importance to procuring good boats and canoemen 
was the acquisition of a complete set of portable mathematical 
instruments, but in due time these, too, were obtained. The 
following is a list of them: — One sextant with folding mer- 
curial horizon, one solar compass, two pocket compasses, two 
prismatic compasses, one fluid compass, two boat logs, two 
clinometers, one aneroid barometer, a pair of maximum and 
minimum thermometers, one pocket chronometer, three good 
watches, a pair of field-glasses, an aluminum binocular, and 
a small camera. These, though numerous, were not bulky, 
but they comprised a part of our outfit over which much care 
had to be exercised throughout the journey. A bill of neces- 
sary supplies was also carefully made out, and the order for 




them forwarded to the Hudson's Bay Company at Edmonton, 
with instructions to have them freighted down the Athabasca 
River to Fort Chipewyan, on Lake Athabasca, as early as 

The above and a hundred and one other preparations having 
been completed, my brother and I bade farewell to our homes, 
and on the 16th of May boarded the North Bay evening ex- 
press at Toronto. The journey was not begun without the 
stirring of tender emotions, for to me it meant separation, 
ho"w long I knew not, from my young wife and baby boy five 
months old, and to my brother it meant separation from one 
too sacred in his eyes to mention here. 

Once aboard the train we made ourselves as comfortable as 
possible for a five days' ride. I do not propose to weary my 
readers with a detailed account of the long run across con- 
tinent by rail, as it is not reckoned a part of our real journey ; 
in passing I will merely make the briefest reference to a few 
of the incidents by the way. 

It was not until many delays between North Bay and 
Fort William on the Canadian Pacific Railway, owing chiefiy 
to the disastrous floods of that year, which inundated the 
track for long distances, washed it out at several points and 
broke one of the railway bridges, that we arrived at Winni- 
peg, the capital of the Province of Manitoba and the future 
Chicago of Canada. Upon reaching the city it was found 
that our canoes, which had been shipped to Edmonton some 
time previously, had not yet passed through. After consider- 
able telegraphing they were located, and it was found that 
they would arrive on the following day. In consequence of 
this and other business to be transacted with the Commissioner 
of the Hudson's Bay Company, we were obliged to remain 
here for a day. During our brief stay we were warmly 
greeted by many friends, and were most kindly entertained 
at Government House by the late Lieutenant-Governor, Sir 
John Schultz, and Lady Schultz, to whom we were indebted 



for the contribution to our equipment of several articles of 

The next day we bade our Winnipeg friends good-bye aiid 
took the C. P. E. train for the West. The route lay through 


vast areas of the most magnificent agricultural country, for 
the most part level and unbroken, save by the innumerable 
and ancient but still deep trails of the buffalo. Little timber 
was observed, excepting in isolated patches and along the 
river valleys, the land being ready for the plough of the 
settler. Passing through many new but thriving towns and 
settlements by the way, we arrived early on the morning of 
the 22nd at the busy town of Calgary, pleasantly situated in 
the beautiful valley of the south branch of the Saskatchewan 
Eiver, and just within view of the snow-clad peaks of the 
Eocky Mountains. From Calgary our way lay toward the 
north, via the Edmonton Branch of the C. P. E., and after 
a stay of only a few hours we were again hurrying onward. 
On the evening of the same day, in a teeminaj rain, we reached 
Edmonton, the northern terminus of the railway. 



Edmonton, the capital of the new Province of Alberta, is 
situated on the north bank of the north branch of the Saskat- 
chewan River, and at the time of our 'visit was in a flourishing 
condition. To-day many large business blocks have been 
erected, and property is selling at stiff prices. The city is 
noted for its lignite mines, which are worked to a considerable 
extent, and produce coal of very fair quality. The seams are 
practically of unlimited extent, and are very easily accessible 
in many places along the river banks. Gold is washed from 
the sands in paying quantities, 
while the city is surrounded by a 
fine agricultural and grazing coun- 
try. Petroleum and natural gas 
have also been discovered in the 
vicinity, and the indications are 
that in the near future Edmonton 
will become a large city. 

The town of Strathcona is situ- 
ated on the south side of the river, 
and communication is afforded 
between the two places by means 
of a fine steel railway and traffic 
bridge. The Canadian Northern 
Railway has recently entered Ed- 
monton from the east, and now 
affords a first-class main line connection with Winnipeg. 

Upon enquiry we were gratified to find that the sup- 
plies and men, excepting the two who were to meet 
us later, had all arrived in safety. Our provisions, 
which were to be freighted down as far as Lake Athabasca 
by the Hudson's Bay Company, had not yet gone, but were 
already being baled up for shipment. The completion of this 
work, which was done under the supervision of my brother 
and myself, together with the making up of accounts and 
transaction of other business, occupied several days, but by 




the morning of the 27th of May our entire outfit, loaded 
upon waggons, set off on the northward trail leading to Atha- 
basca Landing, a small trading-post situated one hundred 
miles distant on the banks of the great Athabasca River. 

(Draim/rom life by Arthur Heming.) 

Two days later, being Monday morning, my brother and I, 
accompanied by a driver only, started out in a light vehicle 
in rear of the outfit. The weather was showery and the trail 
in many places very soft. Occasionally deep mud-holes were 
encountered, bearing evidence of the recent struggles of the 




teams of our advance party, but as we were travelling 
light," we had little difficulty in making good progress. 
Later in the day the weather cleared, permitting us to enjoy 
a view of the beautiful country through which we were pass- 
ing. As to the soil, it was chiefly a rich black loam, well 
•covered, even at this early season, between the clumps of 
poplar scrub, by rich prairie grass. A few settlers were 
-already in the field, and had just built or were building log 
cabins for themselves on one side or other of the trails. A 
little farther on our way the country became more hilly, the 
soil more sandy, and covered by the most beautiful park-like 
forests of jack-pine. Many of the trees were as much as 
fifteen inches in diameter, but the average size was about 

After passing through some miles of these woods we again 
emerged into more open country, wooded alternately in places 
by poplar, spruce and jack-pine. About nine o'clock that 
evening, when half-way to the Landing, we reached the Height 
of Land between the two great valleys of the Saskatchewan 
and Athabasca rivers. Here, upon a grassy spot, we made 
our first camp. As the night was clear no tents were pitched 
but, after partaking of some refreshment, each man rolled 
up in his blanket and lay down, to sleep beneath the starry 
«ky. We rested well, although our slumbers were somewhat 
broken by the fiendish yells of prairie wolves from the sur- 
rounding scrub, and the scarcely less diabolical screams of 
loons sporting on a pond close by. An effort was made to 
Tiave the latter nuisance removed, but any one who has ever 
tried to shoot loons at night will better understand than I can 
■describe the difficulties of such an undertaking. 

About nine o'clock on the evening of the 30th of May we 

arrived at Athabasca Landing, only a few hours after the 

loads of supplies, which we were glad to find had all come 

through safely. 

2 17 



(Drairni from life by Arthur Hewing.) 


The town of Athabasca Landing is picturesquely set in the 
deep and beautiful valley of one of the greatest rivers of 
America. Though not of imposing size, it is nevertheless an 
important station of the Hudson's Bay Company, being the 
point from which aU supplies for the many northern trading- 
posts along the Athabasca and Mackenzie rivers are shipped, 
and the point at which the furs from these places are received. 
In order to provide for this shipping business, the Company 
has a large warehouse and wharf. 

It is a fact, I think not very well known, that from this 
place up stream for about one hundred miles and down for fif- 
teen hundred miles to the Arctic Ocean, this great waterway, 
excepting at two rapids, is regularly navigated by large river 
steamers, owned by the Hudson's Bay Company and employed 
in carrying supplies for their posts and the furs which are 
secured in trade. Because of these two impassable rapids the 
river is divided into three sections, necessitating the use of 
three steamers, one for each section. Goods are transported 
from one boat to the other over the greater part of the rapids 
by means of scows, but for a short distance, at the Grand 
Rapid, by means of a tramway built for the purpose. 

As we had previously ascertained, the steamer Athabasca 
was due to leave the Landing on her down-stream trip on 
or about the 1st of June ; so, taking advantage of the oppor- 
tunity, we shipped the bulk of our stuff to Fort Chipewyan, 
situated about three hundred and fifty miles down the river 
on Lake Athabasca. Everything excepting the canoes and 
provisions suiEcient to take us to Chipewyan was loaded upon 



tlie steamer. Letters were written and sent back to Edmonton 
by the drivers, and on the evening of the last day of May we 
launched our handsome " Peterboroughs " in the great stream, 
and commenced our long canoe voyage. 

The arrangement of the party was as follows : My brother 
occupied a central position in one canoe, and I a correspond- 
ing place in the other. As steersman he chose the eldest of 
the Iroquois, Pierre, with Michel as bowman. The remain- 
ing Iroquois, Louis, took the steering paddle of my canoe, 
and John, the western man, occupied the bow. Thus were 
our little crafts manjaed, each person, including my brother 
and myself, being provided with a broad maple paddle. Our 
loads being light, we were in good speeding condition. Just 
after launching we met some native Indians in their bark 
canoes, and by way of amusement and exhibition of speed 
paddled completely around them in the current, much to their 
amazement. Then with farewell salute, and the stroke of our 
paddles timed to the song of the canoemen, we glided swiftly 
down the stream. 

As the start had been made late in the afternoon, not many 
miles were passed before it became necessary to look for a 
camping place. The banks of the river, formed of boulder 
clay, were very high, and good landings were scarce. In 
places the mud on the shore was soft and deep, but about 
seven o'clock a landing was effected and camp pitched for the 
night. At this time only two small tents were used, an " A " 
tent for the canoemen and a wall tent, affording a little more 
head room, for ourselves. The banks being well wooded with 
white and black poplar, spruce and birch, plenty of fuel was 
available. A fire was soon kindled and our evening meal 
prepared, in the cooking of which John was given the first 
opportunity of distinguishing himself. He was assisted by 
little Michel, who proved to be a very good hand. Having 
some bread and biscuits in stock, baking was not yet a 



The weather now being fair and cool, and the great pest 
of camp life, the mosquito, not having yet arrived, our ex- 
perience at this time was most enjoyable. It was the season 
of spring, and the sweet perfume of the Balm of Gilead, so 
abundant in the valley of the Athabasca, permeated the air. 
The leaves on many of the trees were just opening, so that 
everywhere the woods presented a remarkable freshness and 
brilliancy of foliage. These were our environments at the 
commencement of the canoe voyage and at our first camp on 


the banks of the Athabasca. How different were they to be 
at the other end of the journey! 

On the morning of the 1st of June camp was called early, 
and we continued on our way. As we glided down stream a 
succession of grand views passed, panorama-like, before us. 
The banks were high, towering in some places three, four or 
five hundred feet above the river ; here abrupt and precipitous, 
consisting of cut banks of stratified clay; in other places 



more receding, but by a gradual slope rising, beneath dense 
foliage, to an e<jual elevation. 

At this season of the year the water being high and the 
current swift, we made good time, coveriug a distance of 
sixty miles for the first fuU day's travel. About noon on the 
2nd, having reached a narrow part of the river, very remark- 
able massive walls of ice were found upon either bank, some 
distance above the water's edge. These walls were of irreg- 
ular thickness, and from eight to ten feet in height ; but the 
most striking feature about them was that they presented 
smooth vertical faces to the river, although built of blocks of 
every shape and shade from clear crystal to opaque mud. 
They extended thus more or less continuously for miles down 
the river, and had the appearance of great masonry dykes. 
The explanation of their existence is doubtless as follows: 
Earlier in the season the narrowness of the channel had 
caused the river ice to jam and greatly raised the water level. 
After a time, when the water had reached a certain height 
and much ice had been crowded up on the shores, the jam 
had given way and caused the water to rapidly lower to a 
considerable extent, leaving the ice grounded above a certain 
line. Thus the material for the wall was deposited, and the 
work of constructing and finishing the smooth vertical face 
was doubtless performed by the subsequent grinding of the 
passing jam, which continued to flow in the deeper channel. 
After the passing of the first freshet, and the formation of 
these great ice walls, the water had gradually lowered to the 
level at which we found it. 

Late in the afternoon the first rapid of the trip was sighted, 
but the water being high we had no difiiculty in running it. 
In the evening camp was made on a beautiful sandy beach. 
During supper-time we had a visit from an old Cree Indian, 
who came paddling up the river in a little bark canoe. Of 
course, he landed at our camp, for it is a principle strictly 
observed by every Indian to lose no opportunity of receiving 



hospitalities, and in accordance with his ideas of propriety, 
refreshments were given him. He accepted them as those of 
his race usually receive all favors, as no more than his right, 
and without a smile or the least visible expression of pleasure, 
seated himself by the fire to enjoy them. 

On the following morning the great walls of ice, which 
we had been passing for miles, began to disappear as the 
channel of the river became wider. At about 9.30 we reached 
a place known as the Rapid of the Jolly Fool. It is said to 
have received its name from the fact that at one time an awk- 
ward canoeman lost his life by allowing his canoe to be 
smashed upon the most conspicuous rock in the rapid. We 
wasted no time examining it, as it was reported to be an 
easy one, but, keeping near the left bank, headed our little 
crafts into the rushing waters. We had descended only a 
short distance, and were turning a bend in the stream, when, 
a little ahead of us, my brother noticed moving objects on 
the shore. One of the men said they were wolves, while 
others maintained they were bears, but my brother, getting 
his rifle in readiness, terminated the discussion by demanding 
silence. As we swept swiftly dovra. with the current, the 
objects were seen to be a moose deer and her calf. Having 
no fresh meat on hand, these new-found acquaintances were 
hailed as " well met." ISTot until our canoes had approached 
within about one hundred and fifty yards did the old moose, 
standing in the shallow water near the river bank, appear to 
notice us. Then, apparently apprehending danger, but with- 
out alarm, she turned toward the shore, and, followed by her 
calf, walked up the bank towards the woods. As she did so 
my brother made a fine shot from, his canoe, wounding her 
in the hind-quarters. I then fired, but struck the clay bank 
above the animal's head, and in attempting to reload, the 
shell stuck in my rifie, making it impossible for me to fire 
again. Just as the moose was disappearing into the woods 



my brother fired again, and inflicted another wound ; but in 
spite of all away went the deer. 

As our canoes were thrust ashore I succeeded in extracting 
the shell from my rifle, and leaving some of the men ia charge 
of the canoes, my brother and I gave chase. The trail of 
blood was discovered on the leaves, but it led into such a 
jungle of fallen timber and thicket that it was no easy matter 
to foUow. Scouts were sent out on either side, while with 
our rifles we followed the trail, runnuig when we were per- 
mitted, jumping logs that came in the way, and clambering 
over or through windfalls that the moose had cleared at a 
bound. Presently through the leafy thicket we had a glimpse 
of our prey. " Bang !" went both rifles and away bounded 
the moose with two more slugs in her body. 

We were now pretty badly winded, but being anxious to 
complete the work we had undertaken, the chase was kept up. 
We knew from the wounds already inflicted that the capture 
was only a matter of physical endurance on our part, and we 
were prepared to do our best. More than once the trail was 
lost in the windfalls and jungle, but at length loss of blood 
and exhaustion came to our assistance, and one final shot 
through the heart brought the noble beast with a thud to the 
ground, l^othing had been seen of the calf since the begin- 
ning of the hunt, but going back to the shore to get assistance, 
I found that the men had captured and made it a prisoner 
beside the canoes. Taking charge of the captive, I sent the 
men into the woods to skin the deer and " pack " the meat out 
to shore. The little calf, which I held by the ear, was very 
young, and not at all wild. Indeed, though I let go my hold, 
the little creature did not care to go away, but kept calling for 
its mother in such a pitiful way that it made me heartily 
sorry for having bereft it. After the space of an hour or so 
my brother and the men returned, well loaded with fresh meat 
and a fine moose-hide. The meat was placed in sacks and 
stowed away in the canoes, but the hide being heavy and of 



no value to us, was placed on a big stone in the sun to dry 
and await the ownership of the first Indian who should pass 
that way. 

As it was now nearly noon, it was decided to take dinner 
before re-embarking, and while the cooks were devoting their 
attention to bannocks and moose-steaks, my brother and I 


were debating as to what we should do with the calf. We 
had not the heart to deliberately shoot it, but were unable to 
take it with us alive, as we would like to have done. Through 
a suggestion of one of the men a happy alternative was de- 
cided on. Other moose were doubtless in the vicinity, so that 
the calling of the calf would likely attract some of them, and 
in the event of this taking place it was said that the little 



moose would attach itself to another female. With the hope 
that such kind fortune would befall it, my brother, after 
having taken its photograph, led it away by the ear into the 
■shelter of the woods, and there left the little creature to its 

During the afternoon of the same day, the head of the 
Grand Rapid of the Athabasca, situated just 165 miles below 


the Landing, was reached. Here we met a detachment of the 
Moimted Police, in charge of Inspector Howard; and as it 
was late in the day, and Saturday evening, it was decided to 
pitch camp. The police camp was the only other one in the 
neighborhood, so the first question which suggested itself was : 
What possible duty could policemen find to perform in such 



(In ivinter uniform.-.) 


a wild, uninhabited place ? The answer, however, was simple. 
The place, though without any settled habitation, is the scene 
•of the transhipment of considerable freight on its way to the 
various trading-posts and mission stations of the great Mac- 
kenzie River District. The river steamer Athabasca, belong- 
ing to the Hudson's Bay Company, was now daily looked for 
with its load from the Landing. Mission scows, loaded with 
freight for Tort Chipewyan and other points, were expected, 
and free-traders' outfits were likely to arrive at any time. It 
was for the purpose of inspecting these cargoes and prevent- 
ing liquor from being carried down and sold for furs to the 
Indians, that Inspector Howard and his detachment were 
stationed here. 

From the Grand Rapid, down stream for about eighty miles 
to Fort McMurray, the river is not navigable for steamers, 
and so all goods have to be transported over this distance by 
•scows built for the purpose. The head of the Grand Rapid 
is thus the northern steamboat terminus for the southern sec- 
tion of the river. The whole distance of eighty miles is not 
a continuous rapid, but eleven or twelve more or less im- 
practicable sections occur in it, so that no great length of 
navigable water is found at any place. As its name suggests, 
the Grand Rapid is the main rapid of the river, and has a 
fall of seventy or eighty feet. This fall occurs mostly within 
a distance of half a mile, though the total length of the rapid 
is about four times that. The upper part is divided by a long 
narrow island into two channels, and it is through these com- 
paratively narrow spaces that the cataract rushes so wildly. 
Above and below the island, the river may with great care 
be navigated by the loaded scows, but the water upon either 
side is so rough that goods cannot be passed down or up in 
-safety. The method of transportation adopted is as follows: 
About a mile above the island, at the head of the rapid, the 
-steamer Athabasca ties up to the shore. There she is met by 
a number of flat-bottomed boats or scows capable of carrying 



about ten tons each, and to these the boat's cargo is trans- 
ferred. When loaded the scows are piloted one by one to the 
head of the island in the middle of the river, where a rough 
wharf is built, and to it all goods are again transferred, 
whence they are carried to the lower end of the island by 
means of a tramway. The unloaded scows, securely held with 


ropes by a force of men on the shore, and guided with poles 
by a crew on board, are then carefully lowered down stream 
to the foot of the island, where they again receive their loads. 
Accidents frequently happen in passing down the unloaded 
scows, for the channel (the eastern one always being chosen) 



is very rough and rocky. From the foot of the island in the 
Grand Rapid the scows are then floated down the river, with 
more or less difficulty, according to the height of water, 
through the long succession of rapids to Fort McMurray, 
where they are met by the second steamer, the Grahame, 
Avhich receives their freight and carries it dovsm the river to 
Fort Chipewyan, on Lake Athabasca, and thence onward to 
Fort Smith, on Great Slave River, where a second tranship- 
ment has to be made over about sixteen miles of rapids. From 
the lower end of these rapids the steamer Wrigley, under the 
command of Captain Mills, takes charge of the cargo and 
delivers it at the various trading-posts along the banks of the 
Mackenzie River, for a distance of about twelve hundred 
miles, to the Arctic Ocean. 

But to return to our camp at the head of the Grand Rapid. 
Inspector Howard and his men proved to be interesting com- 
panions. I soon discovered, to my surprise, that the Inspector 
was a cousin of my wife's, and that I had met him in former 
years in Toronto. Meeting with even so slight an acquaint- 
ance in such a place was indeed a pleasure ; and in justice to 
the occasion a banquet, shall I call it, was given us, at which 
moose-steak and bear-chops cut a conspicuous figure. In con- 
versation with the Inspector some information was obtained 
regarding the character of the rapids now before us, and all 
such was carefully noted, since none of our party had ever 
run the Athabasca. We had with us the reports of William 
Ogilvie, D.L.S., and Mr. McConnell, who had descended the 
river and published much valuable information regarding it, 
but even they could not altogether supply the place of a guide. 
We were putting great confidence in the skill of our Iroquois 
canoemen at navigating rapids, and now in the succeeding 
eighty miles of the trip there would be ample opportunity of 
testing it. 

On the morning following our arrival at the Grand Rapid, 
being the 4th of June, a number of mission scows, loaded with 



goods for Chipewyan and other mission stations, arrived. 
As they appeared, following each other in quick succession 
around a bend in the river, each boat manned by its wild- 
looking crew of half-naked Indians, all under the command 
of Schott, the big well-known river pilot, who is credited by 
Hr. Ogilvie with being the fastest daiicer he has ever seen, 
they drew in towards the east bank, and one after the other 
made fast to the shore. The boats were at once boarded by 


Inspector Howard and his men, and a careful search made 
for illegal consignments of " fire-water." Liquor in limited 
quantities is allowed to be taken into the country when accom- 
panied by an official permit from the Lieut.-Govemor of the 
Territories, but without this it is at once confiscated when 
found. Out of deference to those for whom these cargoes 
were consigned, I will not say whether a discovery was made 
on this occasion or not. When confiscations are made, how- 



ever, the find is, of course, always destroyed. The news of 
the arrival of the scows was welcomed by us, not because of 
anything they brought with them, but because we expected 
to obtain directions from Schott regarding the running of the 
many rapids in the river ahead, and arrange with him for the 
transport of the bulk of our canoe loads to Fort McMurray,. 
below the rapids. After some consideration, rather less than 
most Indians require to take, these matters were arranged,, 
and all but our instruments, tents, blankets and three or four 
days' provisions were handed over to Schott. 

On the evening of the 4th, the steamer Athabasca also put 
in an appearance, and made fast to the shore a little above 
the scows. Grand Rapids was no longer an uninhabited wil- 
derness, but had now become transformed into a scene of 
strange wild life. Large dark, 
savage-looking figures, many 
of them bare to the waist, and 
adorned with head-dresses of 
fox-tails or feathers, were 
everywhere to be seen. Some 
of them, notably those of the 
Chipewyan tribe, were the 
blackest and most savage-look- 
ing Indians I had ever seen. 
As it was already nearly night 
when the last of them arrived 
by the steamer, the work of 
transhipping was left for the 
morning. In the dark woods 
the light of camp-fires began soon to appear, and around 
them the whole night long the Indians danced and gambled, 
at the same time keeping up their execrable drum music. 

At daylight the next morning the overhauling of cargoes 
was commenced. One by one the scows were loosened and 
piloted down the middle of the rapid to the wharf at the head 




of the island. Here they were unloaded, and after being 
lightened, were lowered down through the boiling waters, by 
means of lines from the shore and the assistance of poles on 
board, to again receive their loads at the foot of the island. 
Two or three scows were also similarly engaged in transport- 
ing the cargo of the steamer, of which our supplies formed 
part, and, much to our annoyance, there was considerable de- 
lay on account of having to repair the tramway across the 
island. "We were informed that the Grahame could not now 

•reach Chipewyan before the 20th of June, which would be 
ten days later than we had expected to be able to leave that 
place. However, we could only accept the inevitable, and try 
to make the best use of the time. 

While Schott and his crews were thus engaged with their 
transport, our own men were not idle. They had been told 
that the rapid would have to be portaged, as no canoeman 
would venture to run it; but having walked down the shore 
and themselves examined the river, the Iroquois asked and 
obtained permission to run it by taking one canoe down at a 
time. Schott and his Indians thought them mad to try such 
^ venture, but seeming to have every confidence in their own 
abilities, we determined to see what they could do. John 
gladly chose the work of portaging along the rough boulder 
shore and over precipitous rocks in preference to taking a 
paddle, but the three Iroquois took their places, Louis in the 
bow, Michel in the middle, and old Pierre in the stem. As 
the three daring fellows pushed off from the shore into the 
surging stream, those of us who gazed upon them did so with 
grave forebodings. They had started, and now there was 
nothing to do but go through or be smashed upon the rocks. 
Their speed soon attained that of an express train, while all 
about them the boiling waters were dashed into foam by the 
great rocks in the channel. Presently it appeared as if they 
were doomed to be dashed upon a long ugly breaker nearly 

-in mid-stream ; but no ! with two or three lightning strokes 




of their paddles the collision was averted. But in a moment 
they were in worse danger, for right ahead were two great 
rocks, over and around which the tumbling waters rushed 
wildly. Would they try the right side or the left ? Only an 
instant was afforded for thought, but in that instant Pierre 
saw his only chance and took it — heading his canoe straight 
for the chute between the rocks. Should they swerve a foot 
to one side or the other the result would be fatal, but with 
unerring judgment and unflinching nerve they shot straight 
through the notch, and disappeared in the trough below. 
Rising buoyantly from the billows of foam and flying spray, 
they swept on with the rushing waters until, in a little eddy 
half-way down the rapid, they pulled in to the shore in safety. 
They were all well soaked by the spray and foam, but with- 
out concern or excitement returned for the second canoe. In 
taking this dovsm a valise of stationery and photographic sup- 
plies, inadvertently allowed to remain in the canoe, got a 
rather serious wetting, but as soon as possible its contents 
were spread out upon the smooth, clean rocks to dry. Past 
the remainder of the rapid a portage was made and camp 
pitched at the foot. While our Iroquois were thus occupied, 
Schott and his men had been hard at work running doAvn 
their scows, and had been unfortimate enough to get one of 
them stranded on a big flat rock in the middle of the rapid. 
Had it not been for the timely assistance of our party and 
the generalship of old Pierre, he would probably never have 
gotten it off. As it was, the accomplishment of the task occu- 
pied our united energies for several hours. 




Befoee leaving the Grand Rapid several good photograplis 
of it were obtained, and then on the morning of the 7th of 
June, bidding adien to Inspector Howard, and leaving our 
supplies in the freighters' hands, we started down the river 
for Fort McMurray. The first object of special interest 
passed was a natural gas flow, occurring on the left bank about 
fifteen miles below the rapid. At this place a considerable 
volume of gas is continually discharging, and may be seen 
bubbling up through the water over a considerable area, as 
well as escaping from rifts in the bank. The gas burns with 
a hot pale-blue flame, and is said to be used at times by boat- 
men for cooking purposes. Eight or ten miles farther down 
stream came the Brule Rapids, the first of the long series, and 
though they might easily have been run, we did not try it, as 
my brother wished to remain on shore for some time to col- 
lect fossils. Meanwhile our stuff was portaged, and without 
difficulty the empty canoes run down to the foot of the rapids, 
where camp was made. Just at this place commence the won- 
derful tar sand-beds of the Athabasca, extending over an 
enormous area. These certainly present a very striking 
appearance. During warm weather, in many places, the faces 
of the river banks, from three to five hundred feet in height^ 
present the appearance of running tar, and here and there 
tar wells are found, having been formed by the accumulation 
of the viscid tar in natural receptacles of the rock. Thus 
collected it has been commonly made use of by workmen in 
the calking of the scows on the river.* 

*For further particulars regarding this most interesting locality, 
see the report of Mr. McConnell, published in 1893 by the Geological 
Survey of Canada. 



Sixteen miles farther down, the Boiler Rapid, so called 
from the fact that in 1882 a boiler intended for the steamer 
Wrigley was lost in it, was successfully run on the following 
day, and early in the afternoon the third rapid was reached. 
It attempting to run if on the left side, we found, after 
descending perhaps half-way, that there were too many rocks, 
in the channel ahead, and therefore an effort was made to- 
cross to the right side, which looked to be clearer. My 
brother's canoe, steered by old Pierre, avoided the rocks and 


was taken successfully across, but mine was not so fortunate. 
In attempting to follow we struck a large rock in mid- 
channel, but happily the collision occurred in such a way that 
my canoe was not seriously damaged. It was merely whirled 
end for end in the current and almost filled with water, 
though not quite sufficiently to sink us. Leaving the two 
Indians to pull for the shore, I seized a tin kettle and lost no 
time in dashing out some of the water. After a sharp struggle 
we managed to land. Of course, all we had in the canoe — ■ 



instruments, blankets, provisions and clothing — ^was soaked, 
and it was therefore necessary to unload and turn everything 
out. My brother, seeing that something had happened, went 
ashore also, and with his men returned to assist us. The 
weather was fine, and our goods soon became sufficiently dry 
to allow us to re-embark. 

An examination having been made of the rapid-below, a 
short run was made down and then across to the opposite side, 
where we landed, and, because of the extreme shallovyness of 
the channel and the many rocks that showed ominously above 
the surface, the canoes were lowered for the remaining half 
mile with the lines. The whole length of this rapid is per- 
haps a, mile and a half, and it is sometimes designated as two, 
the Drowned and Middle rapids. Following these in quick 
succession, at intervals of from two to ten miles, we passed 
through the Long Rapids, which occasioned no difficulty; 
then the Crooked Rapids, well named from the fact that they 
occur at a very sharp U-shaped bend in the river, round 
which the current sweeps with great velocity. Just below 
this the Stony Rapid was passed, and then in turn the Little 
and Big cascades, both of which are formed by ledges of 
limestone rock, about three feet high, extending in more or 
less unbroken lines completely across the river. 

At the Big Cascade a portage of a few yards had to be 
made, and below this, smooth water was found for a distance 
of eight or nine miles, vintil the head of the Mountain Rapid 
was reached. Judging from the name that this would be a 
large one, we decided to go ashore to reconnoitre. For a con- 
siderable distance the rapid was inspected, but no unusual 
difficulty appearing, we resolved to go ahead. About a mile 
farther on, a bend occurred in the rapid, and so high and 
steep were the banks that only with great difficulty could we 
see the river beyond. As far as the bend, though the current 
was swift, there appeared to be but few rocks near the left 
bank, and plenty of water. We therefore decided to go 



ashore at that point, if necessary, and examine the stream 

As we proceeded the stream became fearfully swift and 
the waves increasingly heavy. At the speed we were making 
the bend was soon reached, but just beyond it another bluff 
point came in view. We would have gone ashore to make a 
further inspection, but this was impossible, as the banks were 
of perpendicular or even overhanging walls of limestone. So 
alarmingly swift was the current now becoming that we 
eagerly looked for some place on the bank where a landing 
might be made, but none could be seen. Retreat was equally 
impossible against the enormous strength of the river, and all 
we could do was to keep straight in the current. My brother's 
canoe, steered by old Pierre, being a little in advance of my 
own, gave me a good opportunity of seeing the fearful race 
we were running. Suspicions of danger were already aroused, 
and the outcome was not long deferred. As we were rounding 
the bluff, old Pierre suddenly stood up from his seat in the 
stern, and in another instant we likewise were gazing at what 
looked like the end of the river. Right before us there ex- 
tended a perpendicular fall. We had no time for reflection, 
but keeping straight with the current, and throwing ourselves 
back in the canoes in order to lighten the bows, we braced 
ourselves for the plunge, and in a moment were lost to sight 
in the foaming waters below. But only for an instant. Our 
light cedars, though partly filled by the foam and spray, rose 
buoyantly on the waves, and again we breathed freely. It 
was most fortunate for us that the canoes were not loaded, 
for had they been they never would have floated after that 
plunge, but would have disappeared like lead in the billows. 
We afterwards found we had taken the rapid in the very 
worst spot, and that near the right side of the river we might 
have made the descent free of danger. Without a guide, 
however, such mistakes will sometimes occur in spite of every 



Poor John, my bowman, was badly unstrung as a result 
of this adventure, and declared that he did not want to shoot 
any more waterfalls ; and for that matter, others of us were 
of much the same mind. One more small rapid, the Moberly, 
completed the series, and then for a few miles we enjoyed 
calm water until, toward evening, we arrived at Fort 


This settlement, then containing five small log buildings — - 
a warehouse, a store, the traders' dwelling and two Indian 
houses — is situated on a cleared tongue of land formed by 
the junction of the Clear Water River with the Athabasca, 
and is about two hundred and fifty miles below the Landing. 
The site of the post is at an elevation of forty or fifty feet 
above the water, but in the immediate background, and on 
both banks of the river, the ground rises abruptly, and is 
covered by a thick growth of poplar, spruce and birch trees. 
At the time of our arrival two parties of Indians, one Cree 
and the other Chipewyan, occupying in all a dozen or more 



lodges, were encamped at tKe place, and were to be seen in 
groups here and there idly putting in the time, while every- 
where their mangy canines skulked and prowled about, seek- 
ing what they might devour — old moccasins, pack-straps, etc., 
apparently being their favorite dainties. 

Naturally, our first inquiry upon arriving at the Fort was 
whether or not our two men and canoe from Isle-a-la-Orosse 
had arrived ; but the appearance of an upturned " Peter- 
borough " on the shore soon answered the question, and a few 
minutes later two stout half-breeds made their appearance, 
.and informed us they were the men who had been sent by 
Mr. Moberly to meet us. My brother had expected two men 
who had accompanied him on his trip of the previous year; 
but they having been unable to come, these two, Jim Corrigal 
■and Prangois Maurice, had been engaged in their stead. Jim 
was a man of middle age, tall and of muscular frame ; while 
his companion was probably not more than twenty years of 
age, and in appearance rather short and of heavy build. Jim 
■spoke English fairly well, though Cree was his tongue; but 
Prangois, while speaking only very broken English, could 
■converse in Prench, Cree and Chipewyan, his knowledge of 
the last making him subsequently very useful as an inter- 

Our party, consisting of eight men, with three canoes, was 
now complete, and thus assembled, the cleanest available 
ground remote from Indian lodges was chosen, and camp 
pitched to await the arrival of the four hundred pounds of 
supplies left with Schott at Grand Rapid. We soon found we 
-were not the only ones waiting, and that anxiously, for the 
arrival of the scows from the south. The entire population 
then at Port McMurray was in a state of famine. Supplies 
at the post, having been insufficient for the demand, had be- 
<;ome exhausted, and the Indians who had c'ome in to barter 
their furs were thus far unable to obtain food in exchange, 
and were obliged, with their families, to subsist upon the few 



rabbits that might be caught in the woods. We were also- 
out of supplies, but now the scows were hourly expected. 
Expectations, however, afforded poor satisfaction to hungry 
stomachs, and no less than five days passed before these 
materialized. In the meantime, though we were not entirely 
without food ourselves, some of the natives suffered much 
distress. At one Cree camp visited I witnessed a most piti- 
able sight. There was the whole family of seven or eight 


persons seated on the ground about their smoking camp-fire,, 
but without one morsel of food, while children, three or four 
years old, were trying to satisfy their cravings at the mother's 
breast. "We had no food to give them, but gladdened their 
hearts by handing around some pieces of tobacco, of which 
all Indians, if not all savages, are passionately fond. 

In addition to the unpleasantness created by lack of pro- 
visions, our stay at Fort McMurray was attended with ex- 
tremely wet weather, which made it necessary to remain ia 



camp most of the time, and to wade through no end of mud ' 
whenever we ventured out. 

On the evening of the 14th the long-looked-for scows with 
the supplies arrived. It will readily be imagined we were 
not long in getting out the provisions and making ready a 
supper more in keeping with our appetites than the meagre 
meals with which we had for several days been forced to 
content ourselves. The cause of delay, as Schott informed 


us, was the grounding of some of the boats in one of the- 
rapids, in consequence of which the cargoes had to be re- 
moved by his men and carried on their shoulders to the 
shore, the boats then freed, lowered past the obstruction and 
reloaded. Such work necessarily entails considerable delay 
and is of a slavish character, as all hands have to work in the 
ice-cold water for hours together. 

Receiving again our four hundred pounds of supplies front 



Schott, we lost no more time at Fort McMurray, but at seven 
o'clock next morning the little expedition, consisting now of 
eight men and three canoes, pushed out into the river, and, 
with a parting salute, sped away with the current, which being 
swift, and our canoemen fresh, enabled us in a short time to 
place many miles between us and the Fort. At five o'clock 
in the evening, having then descended the river a distance of 
about sixty miles, we were delighted to meet the steamer 
Grahame on her up-stream trip from Fort Chipewyan to 
McMurray to receive the goods brought down the rapids by 
the scows. The steamer, being in charge of Dr. McKay, the 
Hudson's Bay Company's officer from Chipewyan, who had 
been informed of our expedition, was at once brought to a 
stand in the river, and we were kindly invited on board. 
When I commenced to clamber up the steamer's deck, whose 
hand should be offered to assist me but that of an old friend 
and fellow-shipmate for two years in Hudson Straits — Mr. 
-J. W. Mills. The acquaintance of Dr. McKay and of the 
Bishop of Athabasca, who happened to be on board, was also 
made, and with these genial companions an hour quickly and 
Tery pleasantly passed. Mr. Mills, who was attired in the 
uniform of a steamboat captain, had lately been appointed to 
the command of the steamer Wrigley, plying on the lower 
section of the river, below Fort Smith, to which place he was 
to be taken by the Grahame on her return trip from Fort 
McMurray. Before parting company, the Doctor promised 
"to meet us again at Chipewyan on the 19th, and after this 
short meeting, and many parting good wishes, we resumed 
our separate ways. 

Notwithstanding the hour's delay and the fact that rain 
fell all day, we made the very good run of seventy-two miles. 
As we swept along with the winding river the most beaiitiful 
and varied scenes were continually presented. The banks, 
"though not so high as above Fort McMurray, were bold and 
thickly clad with spruce and poplar woods. Taking advan- 



tage of the discovery of -some straight spruce saplings, we 
landed as night approached, and a number of our men were 
sent to select a few for the purpose of making good tent-poles 
to take the place of rough ones we had been using. Besides 
■spruce and other varieties of timber, balsam trees, the last 
seen on the northward journey, were found at this camp. 

On the morning of the 16th, though the weather continued 
showery and a strong head wind had set in, we were early 


on our way, for we were anxious to reach Chipewyan a day 
or two before the return of the Grahame, that we might rate 
our chronometer and make all necessary preparations for a 
good-bye to the outermost borders of civilization. In descend- 
ing the Athabasca we were making no survey of the course, 
nor any continuous examination of the geological features of 
the district, but were chiefly concerned in getting down to 
Chipewyan, where we were to receive our full loads of 
supplies, and from which place our work was really to begin. 
Despite the unpleasantness of the weather, therefore, our 



canoes were kept in the stream and all hands at the paddles, 
and by nightfall another stretch of about sixty miles was 
covered. We had now reached the low, flat country at the 
delta of the river, where its waters break into many channels, 
but still a strong current was running, and this we were glad 
to find continued until within a distance of six or eight miles 
from the lake. Some parts of the river were much obstructed 
by driftwood grounded upon shoals ; the banks, too, were low 
and marshy, and landing-places difficult to find. Several 
flocks of wild geese were seen, but none secured. 

During the morning of the 17th some gun-shots were heard 
not far distant across the grassy marsh, and turning our 
canoes in that direction we soon met several bark canoes 
manned by Chipewyan Indian hunters. Frangois, being the 
only man in our party who could understand or talk with 
them, was much in demand, and he was instructed to ask 
them the shortest way through the delta towards Chipewyan. 
Indian-like, he entered into conversation with the strangers 
for ten minutes or so (doubtless chiefly about their wives and 
daughters) , and then with a wave of the hand said, " We go 
dis way." So that way we went, and by three o'clock in the 
afternoon found ourselves in the open waters of Lake Atha- 
basca. Two hours later we had crossed the end of the lake 
and drawn up our canoes on the rocky shore in front of Fort 
Chipewyan. It was Saturday evening, and the distance 
travelled thus far since launching the canoes was, according 
to Mr. Ogilvie, 430 miles. As we were already aware. Dr. 
McKay, the Hudson's Bay Company's agent, was not at the 
Fort, but we were received by the assistant trader, Pierre 
Mercredie, a half-breed, and shown to a camping-ground in 
front of the Fort, or otherwise on Main Street of the town. 
During the evening we had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. 
McKay and her children, and also Mr. Russell, an American 
naturalist, who was sojourning at this place on his way down 
the Mackenzie River. 



FoET Chipewyan is an old and important trading-post 
■of the Hudson's Bay Company. Before many of our Cana- 
dian and American cities came into existence, Chipewyan 
was a noted fur-trading centre. From here — or rather from 
a. former site of the post, a few miles distant — Alexander 
Mackenzie (afterwards Sir Alexander) started, in 1Y89, on 
his famous journey down the great riv(ir which now bears his 
name. About the beginning of the present century the post 
was moved to the position it now occupies on the rocky north- 
ern shore of the west end of the lake. 

The Fort consists of a long row of eighteen or twenty de- 
tached log buildings, chiefly servants' houses, connected by a 
Tiigh, strong wooden fence or wall, so as to present an un- 
liroken front to the water; behind which, in a sort of court, 
are situated the Factor's dwelling and two or three other good- 
•sized log buildings. At the west end of the row stands an 
Episcopal Mission church and the Mission house, which at 
the time of our visit was occupied by Bishop Young, the see 
■of whose diocese was formerly here, but since removed to 
Fort Vermilion, some 270 miles distant on the Peace River. 
"Within easy sight, a short distance farther west, across a 
little bay, the Roman Catholic Mission church and various 
buildings connected therewith are situated. This mission is 
a large and flourishing one, and is the see of the Roman 
•Catholic Diocese of Athabasca. All the buildings of Chip- 
■ewyan are neatly whitewashed, so that, particularly from 
the front, it presents a most striking appearance. At the back 



of the Fort, between the rocky hills, plenty of small timber 
for house-building and firewood is found, and over at the 
Catholic Mission a little farm is cultivated, and many luxuries- 
in the way of root vegetables obtained from it. 

The staple food, however, for both man and dogs (which, 
latter are important members of the community) is fish,, 
several varieties of which are caught in abundance in the lake- 


close at hand. One or two whitefish, according to size, is- 
the usual daily allowance for a dog. 

In the north the dog takes the place which the horse occu- 
pies in the sovith, and it is a very interesting sight to see th& 
canine population of the town, perhaps thirty or forty in all, 
receiving their daily meal. They are called together by the 
ringing of a large bell, erected for the purpose at all Hud- 
son's Bay Company posts. At the first stroke all dogs withia 



reach of the sound spring to their feet and scamper off to the 
feeding place, where they find a man in charge of their 
rations. Forming round in a circle, each dog waits for the 
portion thrown to him, which he at once trots away with to- 
enjoy in some quiet retreat. Occasional snarls and fights take 
place, but it is astonishing to see how orderly Ohipewyan- 
dogs are able to conduct themselves at a common mess. 

The day after our arrival at the Fort being Sunday, we 
had our last opportunity for several months of attending 
Divine service, and were privileged to listen to an excellent 
sermon preached by His Lordship Bishop Young. Some of 
our men, being Roman Catholics, were able to avail them- 
selves of the opportunity of attending mass as well, and of 
receiving a parting blessing from the priest. 

The next day being the 19th, the date on which Dr. McKay 
had promised to rejoin us at the Fort, his return with the 
Grahame was eagerly looked for. We had made all the prep- 
arations for departure that could be made until he and our 
supplies should arrive. During the afternoon a strong breeze 
sprang up from the east, raising a heavy sea, and it was not 
until sunset that the belated steamer tied up to the wharf. 
She had had a rough passage, so rough that the Doctor de- 
clared it was the last time he would ever be a passenger on 
her in such water; a not unwise resolution, for the steamer,, 
top-heavy and drawing only about three feet of water, was 
not' unlikely to roll over in rough weather. 

With the return of the Doctor, Captain Mills and the 
captain of the Grahame, we now formed a merry party, and 
spent a pleasant evening at the Doctor's house. Captain Mills 
and I talked over old-time adventures in Hudson Straits, and 
recalled many incidents from our mutual experiences in the 
ISTorth in bygone days. But as the Doctor had determined to- 
leave again with the steamer on the following day for the 
Great Slave Lake river posts, there was no time to be lost in 
social pleasures. In compliance with my brother's request, 



sent by letter some months previously, Dr. McKay had en- 
gaged the best available Indian guide to accompany us from 
this place through Lake Athabasca and as far beyond as he 
knew the country. With the success of this arrangement we 
were greatly pleased, as it was desirable that as little time 
as possible should be lost in seeking trails and river routes. 
The guide's name was Moberly — a Christian name, though 
borne by a full-blooded Chipewyan Indian, who, before we 
were through with him, proved himself to be anything but a 
Christian. He was acquainted with our route for about one 
hundred miles to the northward from Black Lake, and even 
in this distance his services, we thought, would likely save us 
several days. 

ISText morning the Fort was a scene of hurry and bustle. 
Goods were landed from the steamer, cordwood taken on 
board, and much other business attended to. I took charge 
of our own supplies, and checked each piece as it was brought 
ashore. Our chest of tea was the only article that had suf- 
fered from the effects of frequent transhipment. It had been 
broken open and a few pounds lost, but the balance — about 
sixty pounds — had been gathered up and put in a flour bag. 
Before noon everything was safely landed on the shore, and 
it formed a miscellaneous pile of no small extent. Following 
is a list of the articles : Bacon, axes, flour, matches, oatmeal, 
alcohol, tin kettles, evaporated apples, apricots, salt, sugar, 
frying-pans, dutch oven, rice, pepper, mustard, files, jam, 
tobacco, hard tack, candles, geological hammers, baking pow- 
der, pain killer, knives, forks, canned beef — fresh and 
corned — tin dishes, tarpaulins and waterproof sacks. Besides 
the above, there were our tents, bags of dunnage, mathematical 
instruments, rifles, and a box of ammunition. The total 
weight of all this outfit amounted at the time to about four 
thousand pounds. 

A sail-boat which my brother had used in 1892, and which 
was in good condition, rode at anchor before the Fort, and 





for a time it was thought we would have to make use of this 
as far as the east end of the lake to carry all our stuff. 
jMoherly,' the guide, particularly urged the necessity of taking 


•the big boat, for his home was at the east end of the lake, 
and he had a lot of stuff for which he wished to arrange a 
transport; but as we were not on a freighting tour for his 
laenefit, and as we found by trial that everything could be 
4 49 


carried nicely in the canoes, we decided to take them only. 
At this the guide became sulky, and thought he would not go. 
His wife and two daughters, who were to accompany him as- 
far as their home, tried to persuade him, but, Indian-like, he 
would not promise to do one thing or the other. At last we 
told him to go where he chose, as we were in no way dependent 
on him, but knew our own way well enough. 

As arranged, the Grahame steamed away during the after- 
noon for the Great Slave Eiver, with Dr. McKay, Captain 
Mills and Bishop Young on board; but our own start was- 
deferred until the next morning, and in the meantime home 
letters were written, for a packet was to go south from here 
about the 16th of July. 

On the morning of the 21st of June, the whole outfit 
being snugly stowed in the three canoes, our party set out 
on an easterly course up the lake. Old Moberly was also 
on hand with his family and big bark canoe. The morn- 
ing was beautifully fair and calm; all nature seemed to be 
smiling. But soon the smile became a frown. The east 
wind, as if aroused by our paddles, began to stir itself, and 
before long made things unpleasant enough, .coming not alone 
but with clouds of mist and rain. Though we could make but 
slow progress, we persisted in travelling until -9.30 p.m., 
when, having made about twenty-four knots, we pitched camp 
in a little sandy bay, worthy to be remembered because of 
the swarms of mosquitos which greeted us on landing. We 
had been reminded of the existence of these creatures at 
Chipewyan and at earlier camps, but here it was a question 
of the survival of the fittest. Mosquito nets, already fixed to 
the hats, had to be drawn down and tightly closed, and mos- 
quito oil or grease smeared over our hands. 

The north shore of the lake, bold and rocky of aspect,, 
consists chiefly of Laurentian gneiss, and is of little geo- 
logical interest save at a few points, which will be spoken 
of as they are reached. The south shore, which was examined 



by my brother in 1892, was found to be of entirely different 
cbaracter — ^low and flat — and its rocks cretaceous sandstones. 
The chief varieties of timber observed as we passed along 
were spruce, white poplar and birch, and with these, though 
of small size, the country was fairly well covered. 

Our second day on the lake was even less successful than 
the first, for though we made a start in the morning, we were 


soon obliged to put to shore by reason of the roughness of 
the water and a strong head-wind. At noon we succeeded in 
getting our latitude, which was 59° 6' 32" N. 

About six o'clock that evening, shortly after our second 
launch, we met a party of Indians in their bark canoes, sail- 
ing with hoisted blankets before the wind. There were quite 
a number of them, and as they bore down towards us they 
presented a picturesque and animated scene. Moberly was 



some distance in the rear, but Frangois was on hand to inter- 
pret, and as we met, a halt was made. The first and most 
natural question asked by the Indians was, " Where are 
you going ?" " To h — ," was Frangois' prompt but rather 
startling reply. In order that we might have an opportunity 
of securing information about the country (not that to which 
Frangois had alluded, however), it was decided that we should 
all go ashore and " make tea " ; so our course was shaped for 
the nearest beach, a mile or so away. Upon landing we 
found that some of these Indians were men of whom Dr. 
McKay had spoken as being shrewd, intelligent fellows. 
From one old hunter in particular, named Sharlo, we obtained 
interesting sketch-maps of canoe routes leading northward 
from Lake Athabasca. Of course, tea and tobacco had been 
served out before such information was sought, for no man 
of experience would think of approaching an Indian for the 
purpose of obtaining a favor without first having conferred 
one. Our object accomplished, canoes were again launched 
and the struggle with the east wind was renewed. Though 
we travelled until 10.30 at night, we made only 16.4 knots 
during the day, as indicated by the boat's log; and then, in 
the mouth of the Fishing Eiver, we found a sheltered nook 
in the thick woods for a camping ground. 

The next day, the high wind continuing and rain falling 
freely, the lake was too rough for us to venture out. A col- 
lection of all the many varieties of plants occurring in the 
vicinity was carefully made. Nets were set out, and some 
fine fish taken; trolls were also used with fair success, and 
with my revolver, much to the amusement of the party, I 
shot and killed, some distance under water, a fine large pike. 
A few geese were seen also, but none could be secured. 

On the following morning, though it was still rainiirgji»the 
wind had fallen, and we were able to go ahead. Because of 
the wet we had great difiiculty in using our surveying instru- 
ments and in making our field-notes. During the forenoon, 



while ashore at Cypress Point — a long sandy beach timbered 
with jack-pine woods extending a mile or more out into the 
lake — we observed a sail not far ahead. A sail-boat in these 
waters was an unusual sight, but on this occasion we were 
able to guess its meaning. It was Mr. Eeed with his party 
returning from Fort Fond-du-Lac (now a small winter post 
only) to Chipewyan with the last winter's trade. We had 
been told we would likely meet .him on the lake, and here he 


came before the breeze in his big York boat. As he ap- 
proached and sighted us, he made in to where we were, and 
ran his boat on the sandy beach. In the party, besides Mr. 
Eeed, the young trader, were two French priests returning 
frouj their season's labor among the Indians. One of them, 
now an old man, had spent the greater part of his life in 
mission work in this district, and- was about laying down his 
commission, to be succeeded by his younger companion. As 
it was nearly noon, our men were instructed, though it was 



raining heavily, to kindle a fire and prepare lunch for the 
party. Beneath some thick fir-trees a shelter was found, and 
the tea being made and lunch laid out on the ground, we 
all seated ourselves about, and spent a delightful half-hour 
together. But to us every hour was precious, and without 
further delay we wished each other God-speed, and continued 
our courses. By nightfall the log-reading showed our day's 


travel to be thirty-two knots, equivalent to about thirty-seven 
miles. So far we had been fortunate in finding comfortable 
camping grounds. With a guide who knew the shore we 
should be expected to do so, but with a guide such as ours, 
who was commonly several miles behind, his connection with 
the party made little difference, excepting in the consumption 
of " grub." 

Three more days passed, and despite the unfavorable 
weather, seventy miles of shore-line were surveyed. Then a 



discovery of some interest was made. Just east of the Beaver 
Hills -we found a veritable mountain of iron ore, of the kind 
known as haematite. Coal to smelt it is not found in the 
vicinity, though there is plenty of wood in the forest. The 
shore of this part of the lake was very much obscured by 
islands, upon the slopes of which the remains of the last 
winter's snowbanks could still be seen. 

We made an early start on the morning of the 28th, break- 
ing camp at five o'clock, but before we had made any distance 
a fog settled over the lake, so dense that we could not see ten 
yards from*the canoes. For some time we groped along in 
the darkness, every little while finding our way obstructed 
by the rocky wall of some island or point of land, and finally, 
meeting with a seemingly endless shore, we were obliged to 
wait for the weather to clear. All hands landed and climbed 
the precipitous bank, with a view to discovering something 
about the locality, but all was obscurity. Toward noon the 
fog lifted, and we were able to make out our position, which 
was on the mainland, north of Old Man Island. On this 
point we observed a solitary grave, and, near by, the remains 
of an old log house. As to who had been the occupant of this 
solitary hut, or whose remains rested in the lonely grave, we 
knew not, but their appearance- on this uninhabited shore 
made a realistic picture of desolation and sadness. 

On the morning of the 29th of June, high west winds 
and heavy rain were again the order of the day, but venturing 
■out, we made a fast run before the wind and reached the Fort 
in a heavy sea. Fond-du-Lac is a fort only in name, and 
•consists in all of two or three small log shanties and a little 
log mission church, situated on a bare, exposed sandy shore, 
without any shelter from the fierce winter storms which hold 
high carnival in this country six or seven months of the year. 
Having already met the white residents of Fond-du-Lac on 
-the lake, we found most of their houses, few though they 
were, locked up. Two or three Indians and their families 



were living at the place, and with one of them letters 
were left, with a hope that they might be taken safely to 
Chipewyan, and thence forwarded by the Hudson's Bay 
Company's autumn packet to Edmonton. This was un- 
• doubtedly the last chance, though only a chance, of sending 
any news to our friends, until we should return to civilization, 
Erom Eond-du-Lac eastward the lake is quite narrow,. 


having much the appearance of a broad river. It is only five 
miles in width, but extends a distance of fifty miles in 
this direction. On the south shore could be seen a large 
group of Indian lodges, and at this camp was the home of 
our guide. It was here that his' family were to be left, so we 
all went across to the Indians' encampment. Moberly now 



appeared to be very indifferent as to whether or not he should 
go any farther with us. Indeed he seemed more inclined to 
remain with his friends, for to accompany us meant more 
exertion for him than he was fond of. Various reasons were 
given why he must remain at this place; but after much 
parleying, and the offer of liberal inducements, he promised 
to secure a companion canoeman and follow our track in the 
morning. With this understanding we parted, and proceeded 
along the south shore until evening, when, finding an inviting 
camping-ground in the open jack-pine woods, we went ashore, 
where the cooks soon prepared supper — with us the principal 
meal of the day. 

So far our fare had been exceedingly good, for it had been 
the policy to dispose of luxuries as soon as possible, in order 
to reduce the weight of the loads on the portages. Our 
limited stock of canned fruits was, therefore, used with a free 
hand at first. 

June clofed with a bright, clear and unusually calm day, 
which was also marked by the absence of mosquitos and black 
flies. Under these unusual circumstances, at noon-hour, an 
event occurred which was seldom repeated during the re- 
mainder of our journey, viz., the taking of a bath. 

Just as lunch was ready we were again joined by Moberly 
and his companion, an old Indian named Bovia. We were 
glad, and not a little surprised, to see them, for we had a sus- 
picion that the guide had no serious intention of keeping his 
promise. During the afternoon, however, as before, his canoe 
lagged far behind, not so much because of his inability to 
keep up with us as because of his serene indifference and 
laziness. The paddles used by him and his comrade were 
like spoons as compared with our broad blades, and the 
position of old Bovia, as he pulled with one elbow resting on 
the gunwale of his canoe, was most amusing. By this way of 
travelling it was very evident that the guides were going to 
be a drag rather than a help to us, so it was resolved that 



before proceeding farther a definite understanding must be 
arrived at. 

Beside the evening camp-fire, accordingly, the matter was 
broached to the Indians. They were told plainly that if they 
were to continue with us they would be required to go in ad- 
vance and show us the way as far as they knew the route, and 
further, that they would be expected to assist in portaging our 
stuff whenever that might become necessary. In considera- 
tion of this, as already agreed upon, they were to receive their 
hoard and eighty skins ($40.00) per month upon their return 
to Chipewyan. This arrangement was accepted as being 
satisfactory to them, and it was hoped that it might result 
satisfactorily to ourselves. 

During the morning of the 1st of July, with a little Union 
Jack flying at the bow of my canoe, we arrived at the east 
end of the lake, and concluded a traverse, since leaving Chip- 
ewyan, of 210 miles. Here, at the extremity of the lake, we 
found several Indian families living, not as is usual, in their 
" tepees " or skin-covered lodges, but in substantial log houses. 
One of these, we learned, was the property of our brave 
Moberly, and in front of it he and old Bovia deliberately went 
ashore, drew up their canoe, and seated themselves upon the 
ground beside some friends. 

Their action at once struck us as suspicious, but presently 
they made an open demand for a division of our bacon, flour, 
tea and tobacco. Some pieces of tobacco and a small quan- 
tity of tea had already been given, but any further distribu- 
tion of our supplies was declined. At this Moberly feigned 
to become very angry, and said he would go with us no 
farther ; and not another foot would he go. From the first 
his quibbling, unreliable manner, characteristic of the tribe 
to which he belonged, had been most unsatisfactory, and now 
having received board for himself and his family in journey- 
ing homeward, besides a month's pay in advance, he had re- 
solved to desert us. There was no use in trying to force him 



to continue with us against his inclinations, nor could we 
gain anything by punishing him for his deception, though 
punishment he richly deserved. He was given one last oppor- 
tunity of deciding to go with us, but still refusing, we parted 
■company with him without wasting strong language which 
he would not have understood. 

With our three canoes only, we thereupon commenced the 
ascent of what had been named the Stone River, the outlet 
•of Black Lake. We had gone but a short distance when we 


were met by a canoe and four Indians coming down with the 
■current. They appeared to be delighted to see us, and turn- 
ing back accompanied us to the first rapid, where a short 
portage had to be made. In this they willingly assisted us, 
and for their labor were liberally rewarded with tea, tobacco 
and a few lumps of sugar. They volunteered to return 
on the following day and assist us in crossing some 
longer portages, the first of which we would meet before 
nightfall. Of this offer we were quite glad, and promised 
good pay for the work as inducement for them to keep the 
-engagement, but in the meantime they went down to the log 



houses where we had left our guides, and we continued our 
course up the river. 

The next day, Sunday, we spent in camp at the foot of a 
wild and beautiful cataract. The weather was warm, and 
the black flies and mosquitos swarmed in the woods and 
about camp so thickly that we could nowhere escape from 
their ceaseless hum and dreaded bite. In this neighborhood 


they did not appear to have the customary respect for the 
smudge. Dense smoke was made about camp, but the flies 
only appeared to revel in it. 

At camp the men were variously employed. A fishing net 
had been put out in an eddy at the foot of the rapids the 
previous night, and when taken up in the morning some of 
the finest fish I have ever seen were found in it. Two salmon 
trout measured three feet one inch and three feet two inches 
in length respectively, and the whitefish, of which there 



were a large number, ranged in weight from six to ten 
pounds. I may add, in deference to a suspicion which state- 
ments of this nature sometimes give rise to, that these facts 
can be amply verified. Towards evening we looked for the 
return of the four natives who had promised us their assist- 
ance, but they came not. 

Following this day of rest came one of most laborious, 
exhausting work. Our camp was not only at the foot of a 
beautiful fall, but in consequence was at the lower end of a 
rough, rocky portage, found to be three miles in length, and 
the canoes were all heavily loaded, containing some four 
thousand pounds of cargo to be transported. One of our men, 
Corrigal, was unfortunately laid up for the time with an 
ugly gash in the knee, so we had only five packers ; but being 
fresh and in good spirits, they went at their work with a rush, 
notwithstanding a rocky hill of two hundred feet which had 
to be climbed, and a deep muskeg which obliged them to 
wade. Before nightfall, however, their spirits were away 
down as a result of this slavish work. Feet were fearfully 
blistered, and all complained of pains in one place or another ; 
but each man had carried six loads to the upper end of the 
portage, which represented a walk of thirty-three miles, 
eighteen of which were travelled with one-hundred pound 
loads upon their backs, over rocky hills and through swamps 
knee-deep with mire. This was disheartening work at the 
outset, but it was good training for what was to follow. 

The next morning the weather was hot and the flies were 
out in swarms, as on the day before. The men were all foot- 
sore and stifle, but without a grumble resumed their work. 
They were obliged to make two more trips before everything 
was across, and by that time it was nearly noon ; still, with- 
out a pause for rest, they loaded the canoes, pushed out into 
the lake — a small expansion of the river — and headed for the 
opposite shore, where we soon discovered the "mouth of the 
river we were to ascend. While yet far out on the lake we 



could see its foaming water, and as we drew nearer could 
plainly hear the unmistakable roar of a cataract. Some dis- 


tance to the right, on a sandy beach, we went ashore, and 
found ourselves at the foot of a second long portage. 



Because of the condition of our men, camp was now 
ordered to be pitched, so as to give them some chance to 
recruit. My brother and I walked across the portage, and 
found it to be three and one-half miles in length. It was, 
however, much less difficult than the former one, being more 
level and less rocky. Its upper end terminated on the shore 
of Black Lake, where we hoped to find Indians who would 
help us across. But in this we were disappointed, and, in- 
stead of Indians, found only old forsaken " tepee " poles and 


blackened fireplaces. We tried to rest for a while upon the 
shore of Black Lake, but the files swarmed about us with 
such frightful fury that we were compelled to beat a retreat, 
and seek rest where alone it could be found — ^beneath our 
mosquito awnings at camp. 

Just here I am reminded of an Indian tradition which 
says that it was on these very portages that the Great Spirit 
first made the black files, and our experience, we thought, 
would tend to bear out that belief. 

On the afternoon of the 7th we started out in a north- 
easterly direction, following the shore of Black Lake (ex- 



plored by my brother in 1892) for a distance of about sixteen 
miles, until we reached the hunting trail, of which he had 
been informed by the Indians, leading away to the north- 
ward. This place until now had been our objective point, and 
the way to it was known ; but beyond this point we knew noth- 
ing of the road, or of the country through which it would 
lead us, excepting for the first few days' travel, to which the 
Indians' description, quoted at the beginning of this narra- 
"tive, would apply. Trom this point northward, for a distance 
of one hundred miles or thereabouts, we had expected to be 
^ided by that old humbug Moberly, but he having deserted 
Tis, we were now dependent on our own resources. 




On Saturday morning, the 8th of July, without guide or 
map, we commenced our journey into the great untravelled 
wilderness. The trail commenced with a portage two miles 
in length, leading through thickets, swamps, and over rocky 
hills, but by this time the men were accustomed to their 
work, and went about it in a steadier and more methodical 
manner. My brother's time was chiefly devoted to the general 
direction of the party, and an examination of the geology of 
the country.* My own time was largely taken up in making 
the survey and topographical notes of the route, and in col- 
lecting the flora of the country; but when our duties per- 
mitted and occasion required, we both took a turn at the 
pack-straps, as we did on this portage. 

In order to make an easier trail than the existing circuitous 
one, which led over sharp angular stones and precipitous 
rocks, we were obliged to cut our way through a thicket for 
a distance of half a mile. Having done this, the work of 
portaging through the forest was begun. During the re- 
mainder of the day, and indeed until ten o'clock at night, we 
continued our labor. Corrigal, who had been crippled, was 
now at work again, and proved to be a capital man. All 
hands worked well, but it was amusing to note the craftiness 
of the Iroquois, who invariably tried to secure light articles 
to carry, such as biscuits, tents or dunnage bags. With 
immense loads of comparatively little weight they would 
stagger off, reminding one of old Atlas carrying the world 
on his shoulders. 

*For a full description of geological features, etc., see J. B. 
Tyrrell's Report for 1893-94, Geological Survey. 

5 65 


When the last loads for the week were laid down at camp, 
we were a thoroughly tired party. Tor the past six days we 
had labored on long portages, and during that time had car- 
ried the entire outfit for a distance of about eight miles, over 
the roughest kind of country, representing a total transport 
of fifty-six miles, or a walk of 104 miles for each man. 
Sunday was spent, therefore, by all in enjoying complete 
rest. The weather continued fine and warm, as it had been 
all week. 


During the succeeding day and a half, six little lakes and 
as many short portages, leading in a northerly direction, 
were crossed, and then, at noon on the 11th, "Wolverine Lake 
was discovered and its geographical position determined. 
This lake, only about three miles in width by six in length, 
is by no means a large body of water, but because of its many 
deep shore indentations and a consequent coast-line of forty 
or fifty miles, it was thought by us to be large enough before 
we discovered our road out of it, which we knew to be by the 
ascent of a large river from the north. The shores of the 



lake were heavily and beautifully wooded with spruce and 
birch timber, and its surface was studded with islands. At 
nightfall, after exploring the uttermost recesses of several 
deep bays, without discovering any trace of the river, we 
pitched camp, and obtained shelter from a cold, drizzling 

The next morning being cool and flies scarce, a plunge 
bath was the first item on the programme. After disposing 
of our usual breakfast of bacon and bannocks, the search for 
the route was resumed. After much careful search, occupy- 
ing nearly the whole day, the mouth of the river was found, 
close to where we had first entered the lake. It was much 
(ybscured by islands, and owing to the depth of the channel, 
had an almost imperceptible current; but beyond all doubt 
it was the road described by the Indians, and though rain was 
again falling, no time was lost in commencing the ascent. 

About seven miles up stream we were obliged to seek camp, 
but a suitable one was not to be found, as the shores were 
low and flooded with water. A place none too dry was finally 
selected, and in a drenched condition we scrambled or waded 

As I was enjoying a mug of tea, my brother came intO' 
our tent and reported having heard a caribou calf in the 
swamp close by. Though it was already nearly dark, I picked 
up my rifle and started out in the direction from which he 
had heard the noise, in quest of venison. The dense spruce 
swamp was literally alive with mosquitos, which at every 
step rose up from the wet grass in swarms and beat into my 
face. A runway was soon found, and I hurried noiselessly 
along through the gloom of the forest, hoping soon to hear 
something of the calf. Many other runways were crossed, 
and after travelling some distance without any signs of suc- 
cess, I was about to return, for fear of being overtaken by 
darkness, when a little distance ahead I heard the cracking 
of a stick. I had no doubt but that it was caused by the foot 



of the fawn, so quickly but silently I proceeded. Again and 
again the noise was heard, and each time nearer than the last. 
My advance was continued cautiously, until very soon, in a 
thicket of scrub only a few yards ahead, I noticed the moving 
of some branches. Still no deer could I see, but in creeping 
up closer, at a distance of not over twenty yards, I suddenly 
came within full view of an immense black bear, seated on 
his haunches and occupied in rubbing the mosquitos ofE his 
nose. Although taken by surprise at the proportions of the 
supposed calf, I dropped on one knee, and, levelling my rifle, 
fired at the back of bruin's head, whereat he also exhibited 
considerable surprise, leaping into the air, makiiig several 
delirious revolutions, and bolting away into the gloom of the 
swamp. Though without doubt badly wounded, it was 
too dark to follow him. The gloom had already spoiled my 
aim, so without further pursuit I groped my way back to 

During the following day the ascent of Wolverine Eiver 
was continued, and three short portages, the longest one being 
half a mile, were made. As we proceeded northward the 
banks of the river became more rocky. In many places bald 
hill-tops were visible, rising two or three hundred feet above 
the level of the river. Such timber as there was consisted of 
spruce, birch and jack-pine. 

On the 14th, Birch Lake, a small body of water about nine 
miles long by two wide, was discovered and surveyed, and 
near its northern extremity a large, rapid stream was found 
discharging its foaming waters. Judging the course of this 
stream to be our route, a portage of half a mile was made past 
it. This brought us to the southern extremity of another 
larger lake, which we assumed to be the Indians' so-called 
" Big Lake," and which, in honor of the then Director of the 
Geological Survey we have named Selvryn Lake. Being too 
wide to admit of both shores being sketched from our line of 
survey, this lake was traversed on the east side only. 



In the evening camp was pitched on an island a little dis- 
tance off shore. On this island a lonely grave was discovered, 
at the head of which stood a plain wooden cross. It was, 
doubtless, the grave of some Christian Indian who had been 
taught by the priests at Fond-du-Lac, and who, when out on 
a hunting expedition, had been stricken down by the great 
Eeaper, and had been laid here to rest by his companions. 

This island camp recalls an incident connected with John, 
our baker. For some time past, notwithstanding the appetites 
of the men, his bread had not been giving satisfaction. Some 
of the party were afraid to eat it on account of the possibili- 
ties of canoeing accidents, which, if occurring, would almost 
certainly result fatally, for with John's bread in one's stomach 
there could be little hope of remaining afloat. At first John 
had confined his baking to the making of " grease bannocks," 
which, after being formed in a pan, were removed and cooked 
before the fire on a stick; and so long as he baked in his 
accustomed way he was fairly successful, but as soon as he 
undertook the use of baking powder, and the production of 
bread from a reflector (a camp oven), he grievously failed. 
Being anxious to uphold the dignity of his profession at this 
camp, he sat up all night endeavoring to improve on his 
methods, but with little success. Two days later he again 
undertook the prosecution of his calling, and, after cleaning 
his hands, brought out his dutch-oven, bake-pans, sack of 
flour, baking powder, etc. My brother, noticing these prep- 
arations, strolled over to a convenient log and there seated 
himself to watch John's modus operandi. The sack was 
opened and the top of it rolled do-^vn until it formed a ring 
over the flour, in which a hollow was then made with the 
hands. Into this basin a quart or more of water was poured, 
and into the water the prescribed quantity of hahing poivder 
was stirred and allowed to effervesce before being stirred 
into the flour. The secret of Johii's failures was thus dis- 
closed, and he was given instructions on the use of baking 



powder, with the result that after this- we enjoyed better 

A week had now passed since leaving the end of the long 
portage out of Black Lake, and during that time we had 
made only about eighty miles. This was a slow rate of 
travel, and would have to be improved on if possible. One 
day had been lost in discovering the outlet from^ Wolverine 
Lake, another spent in ascending the river, and considerable 
time had been occupied on the several portages. 

Sunday, the 16th of July, was spent quietly and profitably 
at camp after the six days of hard travel, and, strange to say, 
the flies which had filled the air and made our lives a burden 
the previous evening had now almost entirely disappeared. 
The day was bright and warm, affording a good opportimity 
for lake bathing, and this pleasure was highly appreciated. 
After one has been subjected to the continual lacerations and 
stings of files and mosquitos, and the liberal application of 
tar-oil for a 'week or two, a bath is not an unneeded luxury. 

On Monday morning the exploration of Selwyn Lake was 
continued. The shore-line was still found to be irregular 
and indented by deep bays. Some of these were passed by, 
but those toward the north end of the lake were carefully 
examined to their extremities, in our search for the portage 
of which we had been informed, leading over the Height of 

Towards evening our party was surprised by the appear- 
ance of a canoe some distance away, and not far from it, 
on a little island, an Indian camp. Shaping our course for 
the camp, a salute was fired, and was promptly answered by 
the Indians. Reaching the camp we were not a little aston- 
ished to find that some of the Indians were the very same 
men who had agreed to assist us over the portages out of 
Athabasca and Black lakes. They had, no doubt, after 
meeting old Moberly, been prompted to leave us to shift for 
ourselves, and had returned in such a way as to avoid meet- 



ing us again. From them, we now inquired for the Height 
of Land portage, and were pleased to learn that .it was near 
at hand. Having obtained as much information from these 
fellows as we could, and arranged once more for three or 
four of them to assist us over in the morning, we pitched our 
own camp on a neighboring island. 

During the evening most of the Indians paddled across 
to where we were, and from some of them sketch-maps and 
useful information were obtained; but their attention was 
chiefly devoted to filling our men with alarming stories 
of the fearful dangers and certain disasters which we would 
■encounter should we attempt to pursue the route we were 
following. They said we would meet with great impassable 
■canyons, and that the country through which it led was 
inhabited by savage tribes of Eskimos, who would undoubt- 
edly eat us. -These and similar stories produced a deep 
impression on the minds of some of our men, and might have 
given rise to serious trouble, and even the disorganizing of 
the whole party. Jim went to my brother, and with a sad 
face unbosomed his trouble. He said that if he were a single 
man he would not feel so badly, but having a family depend- 
ent on him, he could not run into such destruction as he now 
learned awaited us. The rest of the men — excepting, per- 
haps, Francois, who cared for nothing — were equally affected, 
and it was with some difficulty we managed to, reassure them. 
We told them that these Indians were a set of miserable liars, 
and were only trying to prevent us from going into their 
hunting grounds; that I had lived with the Eskimos for 
nearly two years, and had found them to be far better people 
than these Indians who were trying to deceive them. We 
referred them to Moberly, the untrustworthy and false, as a 
sample of their tribe, and at length persuaded them into 
■disbelieving the stories. 

On the morning of the 18th, accompanied by five native 
Indians, we arrived at our portage, near the northern extrem- 



itj of the lake, and about fifty miles from the rapids where 
we had entered it. The portage led, as we had been informed 
by the Indians, over the Height of Land to the northward. 
It was found to be a mile and a quarter long. Its northern 
end terminated on the shore of another large lake, the level 
of which was ascertained to be fifty feet lower than Selwyn 
Lake. Separating the two lakes, rocky hills rose to elevations- 
of two or three hundred feet (fourteen or fifteen hundred 
feet above sea level), and between them wound the trail, 
which was comparatively level and easy. With the help of 
the natives, our stuff, already considerably reduced, was soon 
portaged and the canoes again launched and loaded. Before 
these operations were completed, realizing the fact that we 
had now reached a summit of the continent, it seemed to> 
me a most suitable place to leave the emblem of our country. 
Selecting, therefore, a tall, straight tamarack,- and providing- 
myself with hatchet and nails, I climbed to the top of the 
tree and there fixed securely the flag of Canada. As I 
descended I lopped off the branches and thus made of the 
tree an excellent flag-pole. 





Feom Lake Athabasca to the Height of Land our course 
had been constantly up stream, but from this point to the 
sea our way must ever be with the current. Having launched 
our little fleet in the lake on the north side "of the watershed, 
the new stage of the journey was begun with a strong, fair 

The lake is a large one, and has been named Daly Lake — 
after the Hon. T. M. Daly, then Minister of the Interior for 
Canada. Towards the centre of it was discovered a penin- 
sula, which is connected with the west shore only by a very 
narrow neck of land, across which a portage was made. 
.For a day and a half we were delayed here by a gale, the 
most severe we had so far encountered. So wild was the lake- 
during this storm that water-spouts were whirled up from its- 
billows and carried along in great vertical columns for con- 
siderable distances. 

Certain reonarkable physical features, in the shape of great 
" Eskers," or high sand ridges, were also observed at this^ 
locality. They were composed of clear sand and gravel, were 
sixty or seventy feet in height, trended in a north-easterly 
and south-westerly direction, were quite narrow on top, and 
so level and uniform that they might well be taken to be 
the remains of the embankments of ancient railways. Geol- 
ogists, however, have another theory accounting for their 
origin, namely, that they were formed by fissures or splits 
in the ancient glaciers. 

On the sheltered southerly slopes of these ridges many new 



varieties of plants ■vsi;ere found, and some others which had 
been collected farther south were here seen for the last time 
on the journey. Notable among the latter was the aspen, of 
which several stunted, gnarled specimens were observed. 
When the storm had abated sufficiently the traverse of the 
lake shore was resumed, when other notable features 

A large part of the country was now composed of frozen 
mossy bogs, sloping gently down towards the lake. In the 
higher portions of the bogs the moss was still growing, but 
elsewhere it was dead, and, excepting the upper few inches, 
was imbedded in solid glaciers. In many instances these 
frozen bogs or glaciers were found to be breaking off into the 
lake, and in such places they presented brown, mossy, vertical 
faces, from ten to twenty feet above the water. In examining 
these vertical sections they were observed, as on top, to con- 
sist of frozen moss to within about a foot of the surface. 
The first of the moss glaciers, if I may call them such, were 
observed near the Height of Land, but towards the north end 
of Daly Lake they composed a large part of the country, and 
timber occurred only in scattered, isolated patches. 

According to our Indian information we should now be 
close to the outlet of the lake. During the morning of the 
22nd, after a good deal of searching in many deep bays, the 
•entrance to the Dubawnt (broad, shallow river)was discovered. 
It was indeed a great, broad and rapid river, broken up into 
many shallow channels, whose waters seemed to have been, as 
it were, spilled over the edge of the lake in the lowest places. 
This was the river we had set out to explore, and with noth- 
ing more than conjectures as to where it would lead us, we 
-pushed our canoes into the stream and sped away to the north- 
ward. Landings were made when necessary to carry on the 
survey and examination of the country, but at other times 
the canoes were kept in the stream and the men at the 
-paddles. Many rapids were run, but our veteran steersman 



Pierre, with his skill, judgment and unflinching nerve, was 
usually able to map out his course and steer it successfully, 
sometimes between rocks and through channels little wider 
than his canoe. 

Upon one occasion, which I well recollect, Pierre led the 
way for the centre of a wild, rocky rapid. We soon saw that 
he was making for a heavy chute between two great boulders, 
where the channel was barely wide enoiigh to allow us to 


pass. I determined to follow, but our third canoe sought a 
channel nearer shore. Pierre, by keeping straight in the 
centre of the current, was shot through the notch in safety, 
but my steersman, less skillful, allowed our canoe to be caught 
by an eddy. Like a flash it was whirled end for end, and, 
happily for us, struck the chute stern first instead of side- 
ways and was carried through safely, no thanks to the steers- 
man! The third canoe fared worst of the three, for it was 



dashed upon a great flat rock and broken in the bottom. Its 
occupants, by jumping out upon the rock, managed to hold 
it until assistance could be given them. The load of the 
disabled canoe was safely landed by one of the others, and 
the damage soon repaired. 

We were now fairly beyond the limit of woods, which for 
some time past had been gradually becoming thinner, more 
scattered and of more stunted growth. On this account it 
is impossible to lay down any definite line as the limit of 

the forest. Outlying 
patches of spruce and 
tamarack might still 
be found here and 
there in the most 
favored localities, but 
as a whole the coun- 
try was now a vast 
rolling, treeless wil- 

On the evening of 

the 28th of July we 

reached the north end 

of an expansion of 

Our supply of meat was 

quite unable to carry 

whole trip, we had, in 








the river named Barlow Lake, 
already running low. Being 
provisions with us for the 
starting, taken only a limited quantity of this kind of food, 
trusting to our ability to replenish the supply from time to 
time by the way. Up to this time, however, we had seen 
nothing in the shape of game since leaving Lake Athabasca, 
excepting the one black bear which had made good his escape. 
Plenty of old deer-tracks were to be seen, but not a single 
deer, and in consequence we were beginning to feel some 
anxiety. If game should- not be found within a week or ten 



days, we would have to return, or else proceed with the 
prospect of starvation before us. 

We had only begun to think seriously on this question when 
on the evening above-mentioned, just as we had gone ashore 
to camp, a moving object was noticed on a little island out 
in the lake. By means of our field-glasses it was made out 
to be a caribou, and I need hardly say that no time was lost 
in manning a canoe and pulling for the island. As we 
approached, the caribou watched us closely, and, soon satisfied 
of danger, bounded into the air, galloped to the farther side 
of the island, plunged into the water, and struck out for the 
nearest shore. The rate at which the frightened animal tore 
its way through the water was really marvellous, and for a 
time it looked as if we would not be able to overtake it with 
our light canoe and four paddles. Every muscle was strained, 
both of deer and men, so that the hunt resolved itself into 
a veritable race for life. Unfortunately for the poor animal, 
the course was too long, and before it could reach the shore 
we had overhauled and shot it. That night we enjoyed our 
:first meal of venison. 

The next day, after descending the river a distance of 
five or six miles, and getting into a body of water named 
Carey Lake, through which we were steering a central course, 
one of the party called attention to something moving on the 
distant shore to our right. It turned out to be not one but 
a band of caribou. Our canoes were headed to leeward of 
the band, that they might not scent us as we approached the 
shore. Drawing nearer, we found there was not only one 
band, but that there were many great bands, literally covering 
the country over wide areas. The valleys and hillsides for 
miles appeared to be moving masses of caribou. To estimate 
their numbers would be impossible. They could only be 
reckoned in acres or square miles. 

After a short consultation, a place for landing, near a 
small grove of tamarack — one of the last we saw — was chosen. 



Rifles were examined and an ample supply of cartridges pro- 
vided. Shot-guns and revolvers were furnished to four of 
the men, and thus prepared we landed and drew up the 
canoes. So far the deer had apparently not seen us, but to 
prevent a general stampede, it was arranged that I should 
go around to the rear of a large detachment of the herd near 
by, while my brother should approach them from the shore. 
Accordingly, I was given fifteen minutes to run around, a 
mile or so, behind some rising ground. Meanwhile the rest 
of the party scattered themselves about in different places^ 
and at the given time my brother, having approached within 
easy range, opened the fray by bringing down a noble buck. 
At this first shot the whole band — -a solid mass of several 
thousands of caribou — ^was thrown into confusion, and wildly 
rushed to and fro, not knowing which way to flee. Simul- 
taneously with my brother's shot, I opened fire on them from 
the rear, and our armed men charged from the sides, while 
the other two were obliged to take refuge upon a great boulder 
to avoid being trampled to death. The band was speedily 
scattered, but not before a woful slaughter had been made, 
yielding us an abundant supply of fine fresh meat, for which 
we were sincerely thankful. It was fortunate that there was 
wood at hand with which to make a fire and dry the meat. 
Having slain as many animals as we required, the men were 
set to work to prepare dried meat for the rest of the trip. 

This stroke of good fortune gave us much encouragement, 
as we thought we had nothing to fear now from lack of pro- 
visions. Several days were spent in drying the eighteen or 
twenty carcases which were selected, and while this work 
was progressing my brother and I had ample time to roam 
over the hiUs and view and photograph the bands of deer 
which were still everywhere about us. After the slaughter of 
the first day we carried no rifies with us, but, armed only 
with a camera, walked to and fro through the herd, causing 
little more alarm than one would by walking through a herd 



of cattle in a field. The experience was delightful, one never 
to be forgotten. 

The reindeer, which is the same as the Barren Ground 
caribou, is an animal of exceptional interest. To those whose 
imaginations dwell on visions of St. Nicholas and his coursers 
it is the ideal steed ; while to the hardy native of the frigid 
zone it is a faithful and efficient servant, and is undoubtedly 
the most useful and valuable of the fifty or more known 
varieties of deer. 

In different localities, and at different seasons of the year, 
reindeer vary in appearance. They range in weight from 
one hundred to four hundred pounds. During the months of 
June and July they present their poorest appearance, being 
then lean and scrawny, and their half-shed coats ragged and 
frowsy. By the month of August they have discarded their 
tattered last winter garments, and have assumed sleek, glossy 
brown, summer coats, which give them a smaller but much 
more comely appearance. From this time, both because of 
increasing flesh and length of hair, they become gradually 
larger and more handsome, until, by the month of November, 
when they don their winter suits of white and grey, they are 
transformed in appearance into the noblest animals of the 

Then it is that the enormous antlers of the male deer have 
attained their full, hard growth, and he is thus armed for the 
many battles habitually fought during the months of Novem- 
ber and December for the possession of favored members of 
the female sex. During the month of January these antlers 
of the male deer, having served their purpose as weapons of 
warfare, are annually cast. Within a few weeks of the falling 
of the old horns, soft new ones begin to form beneath the 
skin, and gradually these increase in size until they reach 
maturity the following autumn. During growth the antlers 
remain comparatively soft, and are covered with skin and 
fine short hair, known as the " velvet." At maturity a cir- 



cular burr is formed at the base of the horn. This has the 
effect of cutting off the blood-vessels, thus causing the velvet 
to dry and shrivel and ultimately peel off. -The peeling of 
the velvet is also hastened by the deer rubbing their antlers 
upon rocks and trees. With each successive year the antlers 
are supplemented by one additional prong, so that the number 
of prongs or tines is a positive indication of the age of the 
deer. I have counted as many as twenty-two prongs on one 
horn, or twice that number on the pair. Unlike every other 
variety of deer, the caribou is antlered in both sexes, the only 
difference being that in th& case of the females the horns are 
rather smaller, and more slender and delicate iu their 
formation, than those of the males. 

The hoofs of the reindeer are very large in proportion to 
other parts of the body, and, being cloven, they spread greatly 
in walking. This characteristic peculiarly fits them for 
travelling upon the crusted snow, through which other deer 
would break and flounder ii^ a hopeless manner. 

Concerning the habits of the reindeer, they are both gre- 
garious and migratory. During the summer season their 
resort is the open plain or the sea-coast, where to some extent 
they escape from their tormentors, the mosquitos and black 
flies, and find abundance of food in the tender grasses, the 
ground birch, or the willow buds. In the autumn they turn 
their steps toward the woodlands or more sheltered districts, 
where they spend the long, severe winter, subsisting on tree- 
buds, moss or lichens. 

The breeding season occurs in the early spring, before 
winter quarters are vacated ; and the number of f av^ns borne 
by a doe at one time ranges from one to three. 

Prom an economic or commercial point of view, the rein- 
deer is highly prized. By the Laplanders and other people 
it is domesticated, and takes the place of the horse, the dog, 
the cow or the goat of other countries. As a traveller it is 
swift and enduring, being capable of hauling from two to 

















three hundred pounds upon a sled, as much as one hundred 
miles per day ; and as compared with the dog, it possesses the 
.great advantage of being able to obtain its food by the way. 

As a source of venison it cannot be excelled, especially in 
the autumn season, when it is in prime condition. During 
September and October the males are rolling fat ; and as food 
their flesh is then equal to the finest beef. Of all meats I 
iave ever tasted, certainly reindeer tongues take the first 
place for daintiness and delicacy of flavor. 

From the skins of the reindeer the natives of the Arctic 
regions make almost every article of winter clothing. Tor 
-this purpose it is most admirably suited, both because of its 
•great warmth and its remarkable lightness. Through dif- 
ferent methods of tanning and dressing it is made adaptable 
to a great variety of other uses. Sewing thread, lashing 
twine and other strong lines are also made from sinew ob- 
tained from along the spine of this animal. 

What the buffalo was to the ISTorth American Indian in days 
gone by, the reindeer is now to the Eskimos and other natives 
■of the north country. 

N.-W. M. P. "OFF DUTY." 



Befoee leaving " Caribou Camp " a cairn of rocks was 
built on the top of an immense boulder, conspicuously situated 
on the summit of a point reaching out into the waters of 
Carey Lake. A record of our journey to date was placed in 
it, and the "flag that's braved a thousand years the battle 
and the breeze " left floating overhead. 

On the 2nd of August the journey was resumed, and during 
the day a remarkable grove was found on the north shore of 
the lake, in latitude 62° 15' north. As a whole, the country 
was now a treeless, rocky wilderness, but here by a little 
brook grew a clump of white spruce trees, perhaps thirty in 
all, of which the largest measured eight feet in circumference 
two feet above the ground. Such a trunk would be considered 
unusually large in a forest a thousand miles to the south, but 
here it and its fellows stood, far out in the Barren Grounds, 
with their gnarled, storm-beaten tops, like veritable " Druids 
of eld." 

In this grove many varieties of plants were found; among 
others, wood violets, which were here seen for the last time 
on the trip. ISTot the least enjoyable feature of this little 
oasis was that it afforded us an opportunity of having a good 
noonday Are, which of late had been a rare luxury. 

Pushing out our canoes, we continued the traverse of 
the coast to the westward, in search of the Dubawnt, but it 
could not be found until the morning of the following day,. 
when, at the north-western extremity of the lake, it was again 
discovered. The river commenced with a wild rapid of about 
thirty feet fall, and this we found to be followed within a 



distance of tvvonty miles by seven others, all of which together 
aggregated a fall of about 120 feet, which took us to the level 
of Markham Lake, named in honor of Admiral A. H. Mark- 
ham, E.N". 

While traversing this lake a decided change in the climate 


was observed. For the first time since the early part of the 
season snow-banks were seen on the hill-sides, and the weather, 
which had been as a rule wet and cold since leaving the woods, 
became decidedly colder. Toward the north end of the lake 
we passed great piles of rafted ice on the shore. Such condi- 
tions during the month of August were highly suggestive of 
the character of climate which must exist here in the winter 




Near the outlet of Markham Lake was found au excep- 
tionally interesting little island. For weeks we had seen 
nothing but Laurentian or Huronian hills, but here was a 
solitary out-lier of white Cambrio-Silurian limestone. The 
size of the island was perhaps not more than ten acres, but 
its whole composition was quite different from anything in 
the district, and growing on it were found many entirely new 
varieties of plants. Several hours were spent here with fruit- 
ful results, and just as the shadows of evening were stealing 
from the rocky hills far across the lonely plains, we dis- 


covered, at the north end of the lake, our river, upon the bare, 
high, rocky bank of which we pitched camp. 

It is worthy of note that at this point some very old moss- 
grown " tepee " poles and fragments of birch bark were 
found, indicating that in days gone by the spot had been 
visited by Indians, though it was now known to them only 
in legends. We had seen no recent traces of Indians since 
entering the Dubawnt, but at some time they had descended 
thus far, and had camped on the same bald hill which we 
now occupied. There was more than sentiment to us in the 



fact, for from the old rotten .poles, few and small though 
they were, we built a fire that gave us not a little comfort 
and cheer. 

On the 5th of August, after partaking of a hurried break- 
fast of venison — of which, by the way, our supplies now 
almost entirely consisted — the canoes were again launched 
in the swift stream, in which during the day rapid after 
rapid was run, until six were successfully passed and a 
descent of over a hundred feet had been made. 

At about six o'clock in the evening, having made twenty 
miles, a fortunate incident occurred. As we were approach- 
ing a seventh rapid we suddenly found ourselves enveloped 
in a dense, chilling mist, which so obstructed the view that 
we were unable to proceed. As we went ashore at the head of 
the rapid we discovered, much to our delight, a little patch 
of stunted black spruce trees. They were twisted and gnarled, 
and not more than four or five feet in height, but as fuel 
they were the source of much comfort, and beside them we 
decided to camp, it being Saturday night. During the day's 
run we had been soaked by the spray of the rapids, and were 
therefore in good condition to again enjoy the warm, cheerful 
blaze of a fire, around which we all huddled and sat far into 
the night, drying our clothing, rehearsing adventures of the 
day, and discussing the prospects of the future. 

On Sunday we had a further opportunity of enjoying the 
camp-fire, cooked provisions and dry clothing, all of which 
are rare luxuries on the Barren Lands. Our fishing nets, 
which had been set in the river the night before, were taken 
up loaded with magnificent whitefish and trout, the former 
ranging from six to ten pounds in weight, and the latter up 
to twenty-five pounds. 

During the afternoon, as my brother was tramping in the 
interior, he reached the summit of an adjacent hill, where a 
most dreary and chilling scene opened to his vision. To the 
east and northward, not many miles away, and extending as 


J. ■ ^ - 


^g^iSBSm^i^^- :'^ ■ 






far as the eye could reach, there appeared a vast white plain 
shrouded in drifting clouds of mist. It was evidently a 
great lake, still covered in the month of August with a field 
of ice, and was probably the DubaAvnt or Tobaunt Lake, 
blown in a legendary way to the Athabasca Indians, and 
sighted over one hundred years ago by Samuel Heame when 
on his journey to the Coppermine River. Its re-discovery 
was now a matter of the deepest interest to us. Was it to 
form an insurmountable obstacle in our path? was the ques- 
tion at once suggested, and, judging from appearances, most 
of the men were of opinion that it would. 

On Monday morning, the 7th of August, all undismayed, 
we broke camp early, and bidding good-bye to the last vestige 
of growing timber to be seen, continued down the river toward 
the frozen lake. Four more rapids were passed, and about 
10 a.m., retarded by a strong east wind, we went ashore on 
a little island in the broad mouth of the river. Here we built 
another cairn of rocks, upon which were painted, with red 
enamel, the latitude of the spot and the date and name of the 

In the afternoon, the wind having moderated, we started 
out for the mainland to the north. We followed it for some 
miles to the eastward, and then struck across to a long point, 
which appeared to be the outermost point of the river shore. 
Up to this time we had seen nothing of the ice-field, but here 
it was, tight in against the shore, and defying farther advance 
by canoe. Towards the edge of the pack the ice was much 
broken and honey-combed, but it was far too heavy to be 
tackled by canoes or even stout boats. It was decided, there- 
fore, to turn into what we supposed was a bay, just passed, 
and from the shore get a view of the pack. We had no 
sooner altered our course than a deer was sighted close by, 
shot, and taken on board as fresh meat. It was found that 
the point was that of a long island, and that the_ supposed bay 



was a channel through which we might pass unobstructed 
by ice. 

By this time, however, the wind was again blowing 
strongly, and a cold, heavy rain setting in drove us to camp. 
During the night the wind increased to a gale, accompanied 
by torrents of rain, which flooded the tents and saturated our 
clothing and blankets. ITot a vestige of fuel was to be found 
in the country, but with a spirit lamp we made hot tea and 
appeased our sharp appetites with some remnants of boiled 
venison. Eor three days the storm continued. On the fourth 
it turned to snow and the temperature went down to freez- 
ing — rather inhospitable weather for the 10th of August. 

IsText morning, the gale having sufficiently subsided, camp 
was called about four o'clock, and we continued on our way 
through the channel we had entered, and along the west shore 
of the lake in open water until 8 a.m., when we again found 
ourselves hemmed in by heavy floating ice, which in several 
places was measured and foimd to be seven feet in thickness. 
To advance here in the canoes was impossible, so a favorable 
spot for landing was selected, at the base of the point where 
the ice was hard ashore. 

Just as we were landing, a small band of deer was seen 
feeding on a grassy plain not far away, and as our supply 
of fresh venison was nearly gone, we made plans for a hunt. 
It was arranged that my brother and I should take up our 
positions in concealment on a low neck of land between the 
shore and a small lake, and that the men should so place 
themselves as to drive the band within range of us. We 
managed to reach our vantage ground unobserved, but one of 
the canoemen in attempting to carry out his instructions 
awkwardly exposed himself and alarmed the deer, causing 
them to speedily scatter. Some of them, however, bounded 
past within range of our rifles, and three were brought down, 
which were sufficient to replenish the larder. 

l^ot far from the landing place was a high hill, so, pro- 



viding ourselves with field-glasses, we set out for its summit. 
As we tramped across country we found the ground frozen 
and all the little ponds covered by new ice. Such a condition 
of things was not the most enlivening, and it was a point of 
discussion with us whether the season of this land was spring 
or autumn. Upon reaching the hill-top we were well repaid 
for our labor. Away to the south and the east, as far as we 
could see, the ice-field extended, but to the north there lay 
much open water, and near the base of the hill there was a 
comparatively narrow neck of land across which we might 
portage our outfit and get to the open water. This we 
quickly decided to do. 

Having accomplished this task we were once more free, but 
before nightfall were again blocked by the pack. In a deep 
bay by the mouth of a sma,ll river we went into camp, feeling 
somewhat disheartened by our ill fortunes. Neither wood 
nor moss with which to make a fire could here be found, but 
with spirit lamps some hot tea was made, and from it as much 
comfort was extracted as possible, for there was little else- 
where to be found. Meeting with so much ice at this season 
of the year made the prospects of farther advance northward 
anything but encouraging, but we resolved, if it were 
possible, to push on and see the end of the great river we had 
thus far descended. 

The morning of the 12th broke cold and dreary. New 
ice everywhere covered the ponds, but camp was astir early, 
and it was vtdth much pleasure we discovered that the ice- 
pack, which had forbidden our advance the night before, had 
now moved off the shore and left a channel of open water. 
Into this we gladly made our way, and once more the paddles 
were plied lustily. During the day we encountered much 
ice, solid fields of which extended out from the land, but we 
were able to get along without much obstruction. Several 
white wolves were seen on the shore as we passed, and at 
some places, where landings were made, numerous little 



ermines were observed darting about among the rocks. The 
formation of the coast was found to consist largely of a re- 
markable-looking ferruginous conglomerate, and, despite the 
extremely barren and dreary aspect of the country, a large 
variety of beautiful little flowers was collected. 

At nightfall, after a long day's struggle with the opposing 
elements, as we were hauling the canoes ashore towards the 
shelter of some rocky cliffs, we were suddenly set upon by a 
pack of huge grey wolves. A great, gaunt, hungry-looking 
brute with dilated eye-balls led the attack. He was the 
largest wolf in the pack, and a daring brute ; but for once, at 
least, he met his master, as he was promptly bored from end 
to end with a slug from my brother's rifle. The leader of the 
pack having been thus dispatched, the others fled, but avenged 
themselves by howling at us all night long from the surround- 
ing hills. 

With the pack several little wolves had been seen, and 
when the old ones beat their retreat an effort was made to 
capture them; but unsuccessfully, for just as young part- 
ridges suddenly and mysteriously disappear in the leafy 
woods when danger threatens, so did these young wolves dis- 
appear among the rocks, and though we searched carefully, 
we could not get sight of one. 

I have said the wolves here encountered were grey. This 
seemed a little peculiar, since any that we had seen for some 
time past had been of the white Arctic variety, which do not 
travel together in packs, like those of the timber country. 

At this locality, which was close to the north-west extremity 
of Dubawnt Lake, the country was more than ordinarily 
broken, and was distinctively marked by the existence of 
several great hills of sand. The highest of these sand moun- 
tains 1 became ambitious to climb, in order to obtain a view 
of the surroundiug country and have a look for the outlet of 
the lake. In the open coimtry one can often, in an hour or 
two, obtain more information in this way from a prominent 



elevation than wonld otherwise be possible in two or three 
days' travel. So it was on this occasion, when, in company 
with two canoemen, I obtained a variety of information. 

From the summit one could get a grand view of the whole 
surrounding country, and thus an opportunity was afforded 
of gaining much interesting topographical information. In 
the performance of this work my binoculars were of invalu- 
able assistance, enabling me to trace the natural features of 
the country for a considerable distance. 

While thus scanning the broad, dreary plains from my 
vantage point, scattered bands of deer could be seen here and 
there, also two or three wolves and a wolverine. This latter 
animal, also known as the glutton, being not very far distant, 
afforded us some amusement. We had no rifles with us, but 
I had my revolver, and seeing that Frangols was keen for a 
chase, I offered him the use of it. 

Opportunities for excitement were seldom neglected by our 
dare-devil young Westerner, and on this occasion, quickly 
availing himself of my offer, he started down the steep hill 
at a break-neck" pace, followed by John, in a bee-line for the 

'No sagacious Indian cunning, of which we so often read, 
was brought to play in the hunt. It was merely a question 
of which could run the faster and keep it up the longer. The 
wolverine is not a swift animal, nature having provided him 
with only short limbs, but on this occasion he used such as he 
had to the very best possible advantage, and with a rolling 
gait made his way off across the rough, stony plains at a 
record-breaking pace. His pursuers were, however, observed 
to be gaining on him, and as the distance between the runners 
gradually lessened, the race became exciting, even to me, 
looking on from the hill-top. 

Once or twice in their wild chase the men had bad tumbles, 
but, recovering themselves, continued to gain on the wolverine 
until they had almost overhauled him. Then " bang!" went 



the revolver, and the glutton, nnlmrt, dodging around some 
rocks, was almost run upon by Frangois, who in his excite- 
ment fired again, and at the same time took a header. It 
appeared as if he had shot himself instead of the wolverine, 
but he had hit neither ; he had only experienced another bad 
tumble on the rough, rocky ground. Gathering himself up 
again, Frangois followed in hot pursuit, making a most deter- 
mined chase, but just as he was about to do the tragic act, 
Mr. Wolverine disappeared among the broken rocks, and could 
not any more be found. 

Thus ended the hunt, and the men, greatly disgusted, 
wearily recrossed the plain and climbed the hill. 

Finding great quantities of moss in the neighborhood, 
several large piles of it were collected, tied up into bundles, 
and taken back with us to camp for fuel. Two varieties of 
this moss fuel were commonly found growing upon the stony 
hill-tops, the one, reindeer moss (Lichen rangiferinus) , being 
almost white, and the other black and wiry-looking and the 
better fuel of the two. Either variety, of course, had to be 
dry in order to bum, and that was a condition in which we 
seldom found it, as incessant wet weather had been ex- 
perienced since entering the Barren Grounds. 

When dry moss was found, therefore, it was our custom to 
keep the kettles boiling all or most of the night, in order to 
cook enough meat to supply camp for several days. 




Until the evening of the 15th of August, we paddled on 
through varied scenes of ice and open water, following the 
barren shore-line in search of the outlet of Dubawnt Lake. 

In addition to game already mentioned, two young broods 
of wild geese, not yet able to fly, were seen. It is commonly 
said that the breeding place of the wild goose has never been 
discovered, but here, at any rate, was the breeding place of 

On the morning of the 16th we were early aroused by the 
voice of a howling gale and the pelting rain, which was freely 
beating through our flapping tents. Of these, our meagre 
shelters, some of the guys were broken, and the tent occupied 
by my brother and myself was only prevented from being 
blown away by the unpleasant performance of scrambling out 
in the darkness, exposing ourselves to the piercing wind and 
driving rain, and securing it with new ropes and piles of 
stones. Upon this occasion, also, blankets and clothing not 
yet dry since the last wetting were again saturated. Every- 
thing in the way of instruments, photographic supplies, note 
books, etc., were piled together at one side of the tent and well 
covered by a rubber sheet, and at the other side we made our- 
selves as comfortable as possible, which was in truth pretty 

This storm continued with fury for two days, and during 
this time, wet and shivering in the tents, we found our only 
spark of comfort in the brewing and imbibing of hot chocolate 
prepared over the spirit lamp. On the afternoon of the second 



day the rain ceased, and the wind fell sufficiently to enable 
us to faintly hear to the north the roar of heavy rapids. 
Stimulated by the sound, we struck camp at seven o'clock in 
the evening and started out for what we hoped might prove 
to be the Dubawnt flowing out of the lake, and after a long 
and late pull we were gratified to find our hopes realized. 


On account of the lateness of the hour we had no opportunity 
that night of examining the river, further than to observe 
that it was unobstructed by ice, which observation afforded 
us great satisfaction. 

On the morning of the 18th we launched in the clear, strong 
stream of the Lower Dubawnt, and very soon found ourselvps 
at the head of the rapids we had heard. At the second rapid 
the first unmistakable signs of the recent habitations of 



Eskimos were discovered. They consisted of rings of camp 
stones, an old bow, several broken arrows, a whip-stock and 
numerous broken or partly formed willow ribs of a " kyack," 
or canoe. 

About six miles or so down from Dubawnt Lake we arrived 
at the head of a wild rapid, where the broad river rushes 
down through a narrow, rocky gorge, not more than fifty 
yards in width, and about two and a half miles in length. 
Over this entire distance the river forms one continuous boil- 
ing, tumbling stream of foaming water, which at every rock 
in its course is dashed high in air into myriad particles of 
spray. At the foot of the rapid the river again widens out 
beyond its usual width into Grant Lake, which was still more 
than half covered by last winter's ice. 

Past the entire length of this rapid a portage of everything 
had, of course, to be made. Camp was pitched at the foot, 
and near it were found bones of musk-oxen. Later, on the 
opposite side of the rapid, 4;wo of these animals were seen. 

On the morning of the 19th we started across Grant Lake 
in a northerly direction, and within a distance of about four 
miles discovered, to the left, the mouth of a small stream 
named Chamberlain River, flowing in from the westward, and 
much to our delight, upon its sandy beaches found dead wil- 
low drift-wood in such quantities that we were able to load 
the canoes with it. Signs of Eskimos were also observed here. 
Three miles farther north, just west of a remarkable white 
sand-hill or esker, three hundred feet in height, the Dubawnt 
now a broad, swift stream, was again entered. 

Towards evening we sighted, upon the right bank, some 
distance ahead of us, the solitary lodge of an Eskimo. In 
front of the doorway stood a man gazing toward us, and be- 
hind and around him excited women and children were 
gathered. These were all quickly placed inside the " topick "■ 
or lodge, and the doorway laced up securely. But the man 
remained outside, watching us intently. Our canoes were,. 



no doubt, taken to be those of the " Ik-kil-lin " (the Indians) 
from the south — ^their hereditary enemies — so they expected 
nothing good from our coming. 

Our own men, recalling to mind the stories of the " savage 
Eskimos who would undoubtedly eat them," were scarcely less 
fearful than the solitary native, who, as we drew nearer, was 
observed through our glasses to be nervous and trembling. 
As soon as we had approached to within calling distance, I 
stood up in my canoe and shouted, " Chimo ! chimo ! cudloona 
■uvagut peeaweunga tacJco Innuit" (Hallo! hallo! we are 


v^rhite men, glad to see the Eskimos). Before my words were 
iinished the doorway of the topick was torn open, and with 
great rejoicing and excited gestures all the inmates scrambled 
•out to meet us at the shore as we landed. 

The Eskimo himself was a tall, well-built, stalwart man, 
-with a shrewd, intelligent face, and wore the pleasant, charac- 
teristic grin of his race. With him were his two wives and 
six children, and all joined in extending to us a hearty 



Their lodge was a large, well-formed, clean-looking one, 
made of deerskin parchment, and supported by stout spruce 
poles, which must have been brought from some distant place. 
Into this dwelling we were cordially invited and most hospit- 
ably received. Seats of deerskin were offered by the hostesses 
and venison was placed before us, while we in return handed 
around presents of beads, tobacco, matches, and such things. 
About us were to be seen evidences of communication with 
traders, such as a large tin kettle, two old guns and a pair of 
moleskin trousers. Upon inquiry I was told they had re- 
ceived them in trade from other " Innuits " (Eskimos). We 
satisfied ourselves that this family were accustomed to meet 
with the Eskimos from Hudson Bay, who trade at Eort 
Churchill or Marble Island, and for that reason the Dubawnt 
must in all probability flow into the bay. We were, more- 
over, soon convinced of this by getting the Eskimo to draw 
us a sketch of the river's course. 

From the natives we also secured articles, such as horn 
spoons, personal ornaments, and two or three deerskin coats, 
to do us service, if necessary, later in the season. In exchange 
for these we were asked for powder, bullets and gun-caps, all 
of which they were badly in need of. About camp there 
appeared to be an abundance of venison for the present sup- 
port of the family, but the hunt for musk-oxen was what had 
brought this venturesome hunter far up the river in advance 
of his tribe. 

As Eskimo interpreter, I had little difficulty in conversing 
with the natives, though I found that many of my words, as 
nsed by the Eskimos on the east coast of Hudson Bay and the 
north shore of the straits, were not understood. It was not 
ao surprising that many of their words were not understood 
by me. In the main, however, I found the language to be 
the same as that spoken by the Eskimos of various other 
districts formerly visited by me. 

Among those of us who for the time shared the hospitality 
7 97 


of this native family was our worthy cook, John, who also 
laid claim to the distinction of being an Eskimo linguist. It 
was noticeable, however, at this time, that John was unusually 
silent and backward, more so indeed than any one in the 
party. After leaving the lodge I asked him if he had under- 
stood what the natives were saying, and was not a little 
amused when he replied, " Y-e-s, but, — b-u-t, t-h-e, — the 
trouble was I couldn't get them to talk." After a pleasant 
but brief ^'isit of less than one hour, during which time we 
received some valuable information about our route, as well 
as much assurance and encouragement, with many hearty 
" tabowetings " (good-byes) , we parted. As we did so, Louis, 
my steersman, with an expression of pleasant disappointment 
on his face, exclaimed, " They are not savage, but real decent 

The current being strong, our friends at the topick were 
soon far behind. They had told us that from there to the sea 
(Hudson Bay) was about twenty days' journey, and though 
we thought we could likely make it in half that time, we were 
impressed and spurred on by the knowledge of the fact that 
we were now far into the interior of the country, and, at the 
least, eight hundred miles by our road from the nearest Hud- 
son's Bay Company's post, IFort Churchill. This day and the 
next after visiting the Eskimos we had beautifully bright 
weather, but the enjoyment of it was marred by our encoun- 
tering swarms of black flies. 

As we glided down the river several white wolves were seen 
upon the shore, gnawing at the carcase of a deer, and at a 
distance of about ten miles below the topick we entered 
another large expanse of water, named Wharton Lake. 

While traversing the shores of this lake, which is about 
twenty miles in length, a number of magnificent specimens 
of reindeer in prime condition were seen, and several of them 
shot at ranges of from two to four hundred yards. By this 
time — the 22nd of August — the skins as well as the carcases 



of the deer were at their best, and the centres of several of 
the hides were saved and dried for use as sleeping mats, 
while all of the fine fat meat secured was applied to the 
replenishing of our severely taxed larder. 

After describing nearly the entire circumference of this 
lake, the outlet, much obscured by a labyrinth of islands, was 


discovered on the east side, close to a conspicuous hill of 
white quartzite, 230 feet in height. 

At the foot of this hill an Eskimo cache, consisting of 
a "kometic" .(sled), snow-shovels, musk-ox horns, etc., was 
discovered, and here on the night of the 22nd camp was 
pitched. As no moss or other description of fuel could be 
found in the vicinity, some of the men considered they had 
" struck a bonanza " in finding the " kometic," and carried it 
to camp, intending to utilize it for boiling the kettle. A slat 



or two had already been knocked off when, happily, I arrived 
on the scene in time to prevent its destruction and preserve 
our good name with the natives. 

To the Eskimo who owned the sled it was an invaluable 
possession, and for us to have destroyed it for one " mess of 
pottage " would have been a flagrant shame. It was therefore 
repaired, and carried back to where it had been found; and 
for a peace-offering a plug of tobacco was left upon it.* 

Erom our camp at White Mountain, on the morning of the 
23rd, we again entered the river, which for ten or twelve 
miles carried us off to the eastward ; then, turning sharply to 
the northward and flowing swiftly between high, steep banks 
of sandj it widened out into what has been named Lady Mar- 
jorine Lake, a body of water about ten miles long by three or 
four wide. Through this we passed and at its north-western 
extremity regained the river. 

It began with a rough, rocky rapid, in running which 
my canoe struck a smooth rock, was badly injured, and 
nearly filled with water. Though the contents were soaked, 
everything was landed without serious damage. After a 
delay of some two hours we were again in the stream and 
being borne away to the westward, the direction opposite to 
that we were now anxious to follow. 

The river was here a noble stream, deep and swift, with a 
well-defined channel and high banks of rock or sand. Near 
the north banli there extended for some miles a high range 
of dark but snow-capped trappean hills of about five hundred 
feet in height. 

On the night of the 24th we camped at the base of two 
conspicuous, conical peaks of trap, named by us the Twin 

*My brother In revisiting the Barren Lands during the summer of 
1894 was hailed by the natives many miles south of the scene of this 
Incident as the " Kudloonah Peayouk " (good white man) who had 
regard for the goods of an Eskimo, and left on his " kometic " a 
piece of tobacco. 



During the whole of the 25th our course continued to be 
westerly and north-westerly, and because of this we began to 
feel anxious. We had now passed the latitude of Baker Lake, 
whither, according to information obtained from, the Eskimos, 
we were expecting the river to take us. Instead of drawing 
nearer to it, we were heading away toward the Back or Great 
Eish River, which discharges its waters into the Arctic Ocean, 
and which was, on our present course, distant only two days' 

Towards evening, however, a marked change was observed 
in the character of the river. The banks grew lower and con- 
sisted of soft, coarse-grained sandstone. The water became 
shallow and the channel broadened out into a little lake, con- 
taining numerous shoals and low islands of sand. Just be- 
yond this, much to our surprise and pleasure, we suddenly 
came upon abundance of drift-wood — ^not little sticks of wil- 
low or ground birch, but the trunks of trees six or eight inches 
in diameter, as heavy as two men could carry. 'No growing 
trees were to be seen in the district, nor had we seen any 
during the previous three or four hundred miles of our 
journey. At first, therefore, the occurrence of the wood 
seemed unaccountable, but the theory soon suggested ■ itself 
that we must be close to the confluence of some other stream 
flowing through a wooded country. No other could account 
for its existence in this remote region, and accordingly this 
theory was borne out by the discovery, within a short distance, 
of a river as large as the Dubawnt, flowing in from the west- 
ward and with it mingling its dark-colored waters. 

The abundance and condition of the drift-wood, which was 
not badly battered, would indicate that upon the west branch* 
few rapids and no lakes exist between the confluence and the 

*Since the original publication of this book the author has had 
the pleasure and satisfaction of exploring this " west branch," now 
named the Thelon River, an exceedingly fine and interesting stream, 
and of discovering a timbered area of one hundred and seventy- 
miles in length along the river valley. 



woodland district, which is perhaps in the vicinity of Great 
Slave or Clinton-Colden Lake. Lakes occurring on the course 
of a river act as catch-basins to prevent the further passage 
of drift-wood. According to information obtained from the 
Eskimo, some distance up this river there were great numbers 
of his people engaged in the building of kyacks. We would 
have been pleased to visit them, but deeming it unwise at this 
late season to go out of our way, we pulled on with the 
stream, which was now double its former strength and flow- 
ing again to the northward. 

Many geese were seen about the low grassy shores and 
islands, upon one of which latter camp was pitched on the 
evening of the 25th, and a great blazing, roaring fire of drift- 
wood kindled. 

It was hoped that for some time to come this supply of 
fuel might continue, for of late we had been entirely without 
fire for warming purposes. The miserable smudges made of 
moss or ground birch mixed with deer tallow or sprinkled 
with alcohol were useful for the purpose of cooking our 
venison, but for nothing else. 

Erom camp on the morning of the 26th, for a distance of 
four or five mUes, the river still flowed toward the Arctic, 
but in latitude 64° 41' north it swerved around to the east, 
and then the south-east, and bore us down to the western 
extremity of a magnificent body of water, which has been 
named Aberdeen Lake, in honor of their Excellencies Lord 
and Lady Aberdeen. It was a lovely calm evening when the 
track of our canoes first rippled the waters of this lake, and 
as we landed at a bluff point on the north shore and from 
it gazed to the eastward over the solitary but beautiful scene, 
a feeling of awe crept over us. We were undoubtedly the 
first white men who had ever viewed it, and in the knowledge 
of this fact there was inspiration. 

Eor two days following we enjoyed fine weather — some- 
thing unusual in the Barren Lands district — and this enabled 



us to carry on the exploration of the large lake with very 
little delay. We found the total length to be about fifty miles. 
Portions of the shore toward the west end are low and sandy, 
and at one point of landing the remains of an old Eskimo 
•camp, and beside it parts of a human skeleton, were found. 

Towards the east end other remarkable traces of Eskimos 
were seen, in the shape of stone pillars, well and uniformly 
bnilt, but for what purpose I confess I cannot tell. If they 
had been located at conspicuous points, or upon hill-tops, I 
would say they were intended for land-marks. Several were 
found on the shore of the bay forming the eastern extremity 
of the lake, and others in more or less obscure places. I am 
inclined to think the object in building these stone pillars 
was in some way connected with the hunting of musk-oxen 
•or deer, but they evidently were not intended merely for 
shelters or hiding places. 





Since the original issue of this book the author has had 
occasion, more than once, to revisit and explore portions of 
our sub-arctic territory, and, upon one of these expeditions,, 
to penetrate the haunts of the musk-ox and to meet with large 
numbers of these noble animals. The musk-oxen are claimed 
as relatives both by the sheep and ox families, though they 
perhaps more properly represent a distinct family by them- 

In general appearance they may be said to somewhat re- 
semble huge brown homed sheep, but in size and weight they 
much more nearly resemble the ox, or, better still, the buffalo, 
the monarch of the prairies a generation ago. 

Like the buffalo, the musk-ox (Ovibos moschatus) is gre- 
garious in its habits, but where the former existed in thou- 
sands the latter is found only in tens — a band of twenty or 
thirty being as many as are commonly found together. The 
above comparison of numbers may also be taken as approxi- 
mately representing the whole existing musk-ox family as 
compared with that of the buffalo in his palmy days. 

In pre-historic times, as shown by the exhumed remains, 
the musk-ox occupied a very wide area of the earth's surface, 
both in Europe, Asia and America, but now his range is 
limited to the northern parts of Canada and Greenland. 
From personal observation I have found the southern bound- 
ary of the musk-ox habitat to-day to be Hudson Straits and 
Bay, Chesterfield Inlet, the Thelon River, Clinton-Colden 
and Aylmer Lakes, whereas in the time of Samuel Hcarne^ 



one hundred and fifty years ago, we have his assertion that 
musk-oxen frequented the vicinity of Fort Churchill, four 
hundred miles south of their present haunts. 

It is no doubt a fact that, not only have the musk-oxen 
been driven farther and farther from the haunts of men, but 
that their numbers have been correspondingly reduced from 
year to year by the natives, who have long pursued a policy 
of systematic slaughter in quest of the princely robes so much 
in demand by the fur-traders. 

Without pretending to justify an action of which I have 
since been ashamed, I will here endeavor to narrate my first 
experience in musk-ox hunting, which will serve to illustrate 
some of the characteristics of the animals. 

It was 10 p.m. one glorious sub-arctic night in summer 
when I, in company with a fellow-explorer, might have been 
seen climbing to the summit of an elevation of land not far 
distant from our camp, on the shore of a large lake. We were 
armed only with field-glasses, compasses and note-books, for 
our object was that of discovery, being at the time well 
within the bounds of the unknown. 

Seating ourselves upon a large boulder upon the hill-top, 
•our first impressions were those of enchantment, for though 
the hour was late, the sub-arctic sun was barely hidden below 
the northern horizon, and the lovely landscape was still 
hrightly illumined by its ruddy glow. 

At the base of the elevation upon which we rested, and 
extending several miles to the northward, stretched the placid 
-waters of the lake, and beyond it, so bright was the night, 
with the aid of our glasses we could distinctly trace many of 
the details of the distant shore. 

We were thus engaged in admiration and topographical 
sketching when, upon a green valley some three miles across 
the lake, .several dark moving specks came into view. They 
at first were thought to be caribou, which are the most com- 
mon animals of the country, but upon closer scrutiny were 



suspected of being musk-oxen, though up to this time none 
had been seen by us, nor did we consider that we were as yet 
within their range. 

However, since at our camp in the valley we had not a 
pound of fresh meat, and nine men were depending upon us 
for food, it was most naturally resolved that a hunt was in 
order; so a hasty return was made to our tents, where we 
found the place as still as death, all of the men being either 
asleep or away. 

After a brief consultation it was decided not to arouse 
other members of our party. Providing ourselves with two 
Winchesters and ammunition, we descended to the shore, 
where our canoes were drawn up on the sand. As we were 
in the act of launching one of them, two of our Indians 
approached from the camp, and, guessing our object without 
a query, volunteered to accompany us. 

In a moment the canoe was launched, my friend and I 
taking our positions in the middle, whilst the Indians occu- 
pied bow and stem. 

The hour was now about 11 p.m., but the night was glor- 
iously bright and the lake like a mirror of silver. I indicated 
the direction to take, and we glided away silently on the 
shimmering surface. The firmament above us was aglow with 
ruddy light, whilst bright streamers radiated from the north- 
em horizon, where the sunken sun was barely hidden by the 
dark outline of the distant hills. The scene and experience 
of that hour were indeed glorious and shall never be erased 
from my memory. But soon we neared the farther shore of 
the lake and approached the land under the shadow of a con- 
spicuous bluff, near the opposite side of which we had dis- 
cerned the moving objects. 

In perfect silence our canoe was drawn ashore at the base 
of the blufF, and, having marked our ground as we approached, 
my companion and I selected a little gully, or waterway, on 
the side of the bluff as the l^est place for our ascent. The 



Indians, who were unarmed, crept behind close on our heels, 
evidently courting the protection of the rifles. The hill being 
high and steep, we were all pretty badly winded before the 
summit was reached, so a halt was made to recover breath 
and nerve, for by this time suspense and nervous expectation 
^vero keyed up to a pretty high pitcL A few minutes' pause, 
however, greatly relieved the situation, and, having examined 
our rifles, we cautiously crept the remaining distance until, 
our eyes coming level with the brow of the hill, we found our- 
selves suddenly within full view of nine huge dark, shaggy 
forms, which, of course, we knew to be musk-oxen. They 
were all within comparatively close range, not more than one 
hundred yards distant. It is quite impossible for me to 
describe the thrill of admiration and excitement which now 
possessed us, but in an instant we selected the two nearest 
bulls and fired. Both staggered, but to our surprise neither 
fell, so without stirring we fired and fired again before 
they fell. 

The remaining seven animals, apparently not having 
located us, were thrown into a state of frenzy and rushed 
back and forth in a state of wild disorder. 

Having dispatched the first two victims, we turned our rifles 
upon the next two most dangerous-looking brutes and brought 
one to earth, but the other, having located us, and with 
blood streaming from a wound in his side, led the band in a 
furious charge straight for our position. Nor did we try to 
evade their bloodthirsty onslaught, but, springing from con- 
cealment to our feet, we met them with three deadly volleys. 
This so demoralized the band that only one young ox got 
away unharmed. The remaining eight were either killed or 
wounded. In the heat of the encounter we had forgotten our 
Indians, but they had thought of themselves and had kept 
close behind us. They were now set to work to skin and 
save the best meat of the slain oxen, whilst we proceeded to 
dispatch the woimded. This was by no means an easy task. 



One old bull (most of the band were males) refused to fall 
until he had received six mortal wounds, three of which I 
foujid from my own subsequent examination passed throiigh 
his heart, leaving it completely shattered. Others, which had 
run for some distance, were pursued until the eight huge 
forms were stretched upon the ground, only the one having 

Whilst the Indians were busily engaged in skinning the 
oxen, I, with my companion, returned to the camp, and 
though the hour was now midnight, ordered an immediate 
move to the scene of the slaughter, so that all might engage 
in the work of skinning, cutting and curing as much as pos- 
sible of the meat. At first our slumbering friends were very 
loath to bestir themselves, or to believe our story of the hunt, 
but at length they were persuaded that it was no joke we were 
playing, and camp was removed to the base of Musk-ox Hill. 

Whilst several of the party were busying themselves with 
the arrangements of our new camp, they were suddenly 
startled by the hoarse bellow of a musk-ox almost at their ears. 
The young bull which we had allowed to escape had returned 
in search of his comrades, and had given forceful vent to his 
feelings just at the moment when he was turning a sharp 
angle of the bluff within a few feet of a tent occupied by two 
of my companions. Not having been in the tent I can only 
imagine the expressions depicted upon their faces, but the 
musk-ox, finding himself in such unexpected company, gal- 
loped past the camp and out onto a long, narrow, bare point 
extending into the lake. Seeing now an opportunity for sport, 
and preferring it to further slaughter, Mr. F. and I armed 
ourselves with cameras, and calling out all hands, we arranged 
ourselves in a line across the base of the point and proceeded 
to advance upon the enemy, thinking that he would likely 
take to the water, and that we might there effect his capture 
by means of a lasso. We were not long left in doubt as to 
the outcome of the project, nor were we permitted to push 



our enemy to the extreme, for, sizing up his position and evi- 
dently not wishing to take chances in the lake, he wheeled 
about and faced our line. For a moment, with lowered head 
and with fury glaring from his protruding eye-balls, he stood 
at bay, and then like a rocket sped straight for the centre of 
our line, where stood Mr. F. with his camera. 

A less ferocious-looking object approaching in so precipi- 
tate a manner would have been sufficient to cause most indi- 
viduals to take to the woods, had there been any available, 
but not so with my friend, who posed like a target until at 
fifteen feet he snapped the flying animal and sprang to one 
side only in time to preserve his anatomy. Our project had 
failed, so far as effecting the capture of the musk-ox was con- 
cerned, for he was now gone, but it had proved a huge suc- 
cess as a source of entertainment ; nor was the play yet ended. 
Stimulated by the excitement of the last encounter, Percy 

and another member of the party snatched their rifles 

and set off in pursuit of the ox, which exhibited an inclina- 
tion to return to the place where he had lost his comrades. 
Several rifle shots were heard in the distance, and after a 
short time Percy's companion returned. Other shots were 
again heard in closer proximity and quick succession, and 
upon ascending the bluff I witnessed one of the most enter- 
taining episodes I have ever seen. There on the farther side 
of the hill were Percy and the musk-ox in hot chase of each 
other around a huge boulder, the former calling excitedly for 
someone to bring him more cartridges. Believing my friend 
to be in no great danger, I instead ran for my camera, hoping 
to procure a snapshot of the scene, which I did, though im- 
perfectly, for the hour of night was now 1.30. 

As I approached the combatants, what impressed itself most 
vividly upon my memory was hearing Percy exclaim, " Get 
out, you brute!" at the same time bringing his empty rifle 
with a crash across his adversary's adamantine head, certainly 
doing no damage, unless to the rifle. 



Others of our party, who were less interested in photog- 
raphy than I, responded promptly to Percy's appeal for 
assistance, and immediately upon the accomplishment of my 
object his was also etfected, and the night's sport was ended 
at the cost of the lives of nine noble animals. 

I might add that, although many other opportunities of 
destruction were 

working similar 

afforded me during the 


continuance of my journey, no recurrence was perpetrated or 
permitted, knowing that I had already overstepped the boimds 
of true sportsmanship. 

Upon several subsequent occasions, when suddenly coming 
upon musk-oxen at close range, I endeavored to obtain good 
photos of them, but with indifferent success, for the reason 
that either they or the artist seldom foimd each other's com- 



pany congenial for a sufficiently long period to admit of tlie 
operation being successfully performed. 

On one occasion, when I was encamped with two Indians 
on a bank of the Thelon Eiver, I witnessed upon the opposite 
bank a most interesting combat between two large bulls — a 
third being present and acting as referee. 

The combatants operated on the sandy flats of the river, 
whilst the third refereed the fight from the bank at the edge 
of the woods. The method of fighting was precisely that of 
two buck sheep. Standing head to head, they each walked 
backwards for ten or fifteen yards, and then, making a rush 
at each other, their skulls came together in violent contact, 
and this was repeated again and again, imtil one of the fiiries 
staggered under the blow of his opponent and showed signs 
of weakening. A pause was then made and, apparently by 
mutual consent, the two walked down to the river's brink and 
refreshed themselves with the cool water. After imbibing 
to their satisfaction they returned to the positions they had 
previously occupied, and resumed the combat as before, strik- 
ing each other most terrific blows, the concussions of which, 
from where I stood, sounded like those of two heavy sticks 
of timber poimding together. Again the weaker of the bulls 
staggered and almost fell, and as he faltered his victor thrust 
him forcibly to one side and endeavored to gore him with 
his sharp, upturned horns. Eefusing to acknowledge defeat, 
after a brief interval of rest the battle was resumed, but at 
every blow the weaker animal was worsted. Finally he was 
literally pounded out of the ring and left in a condition more 
dead than alive. The victorious bull and the referee then 
retired together. 



Borne down by the river, we had launched on the bosom 
•of Aberdeen Lake without effort, but not so easy a matter 
was it to find our way out. After spending a day in unsuc- 
cessful search, it was resolved to climb to the top of a hill a 
short distance back from shore, and view the country with 
our field-glasses. 

From the summit, which was found by the aneroid to be 
four hundred feet above the lake, we obtained a magnificent 
view of the surrounding country, and could clearly trace the 
■course of the river, winding from the base of the hill away 
to the northward. While my brother and I were thus en- 
gaged in viewing and sketching the country, hammering the 
rocks, tracing the lines of ancient sea-beaches, etc., which 
were" here clearly defined at no less than seven different ele- 
vations, varying from 60 to 290 feet above the surface of 
the lake, the men were usefully employed in collecting black 
moss, which in this neighborhood was found in abundance. 

Since entering the lake nothing more had been seen of the 
■drift-wood, but on our return from the hill in the evening we 
found camp already pitched, and near it a big kettle of veni- 
rion simmering over a fire of moss. More than this, some 
ffour, a little of which still remained, had been baked into 
grease cakes by John, and with these, the venison and hot 
tea, we enjoyed one of the heartiest meals of our lives. 

On the morning of the 29 th, enshrouded by a dense fog, we 
entered the river, and though for a time we could see neither 
bank, we knew our course from my sketch made on the hill- 
top. Later in the day the weather, clearing, enabled us at 
8 113 


noon, as we entered the west end of Sclraltz Lake (so called 
in honor of the late Lieutenant-Governor of Manitoba), to 
ascertain our latitude, which was 64° 43' north. Along the 
north shore of this lake extended a high range of rocky, snow- 
clad hills, from four to five hundred feet in height. The 
south shore was also bold and rocky, but of considerably less 

The next day the old story of looking for the " hole " out 
of the lake was repeated. At noon, while lunch was being 
prepared, my brother climbed a hill on the south shore, and 
from its summit discovered the outlet, four or five miles dis- 
tant on the opposite side. 

As soon as possible after my brother's descent we started 
straight across on our course for the river. Light wolfy 
clouds were already scudding across the sky, and after them 
dark masses began to roll up from the horizon and soon, 
overshadowed us. We were evidently in for a blow, and in 
order to avoid being overtaken on the open lake, every man 
exerted himself to the utmost, ^o sooner had we reached 
shore than the storm burst upon us, but once in the river 
channel we were able to obtain shelter from the force of the 
gale, if not from the pelting rain. 

We had now reached the second of two points of highest 
latitude attained on our journey, namely 64° 48' north. This 
as a high latitude does not, of course, amount to anything, 
but the attainment of a high latitude was not an object of 
our expedition. Scores of times the question has been asked 
of me, " How fair north did you get ?" 

At this entrance to the river a large area of highly glaciated 
granitic rocks were observed, and the channel was well formed 
and deep. Both banks were high and rocky and the current 
swift. ISTotwithstanding the weather our canoes were kept 
in the stream, though it was with difficulty I was able to 
carry on the survey and keep my notes. 

About seven miles down stream a very rocky rapid was 



discovered. On examination we found it could be run for a 
considerable distance, and that for the remaining distance 
only a short portage would have to be made. 

The contents of the canoes being all safely landed below 
the rapids, they themselves were run down, by the Iroquois 
through the foaming waters. Had it not been for our good 
steersman Pierre many and many a rapid through which our 
little crafts were guided in safety would have caused us much 
laborious portaging. If a rapid could be run at all in safety, 
Pierre had the skill and nerve to do it. During the scores of 
times that he piloted our little fleet through •foaming waters, 
I believe I am correct in saying that his canoe never once 
touched a rock; but that is more than can be said of those 
who followed him. 

After reloading the canoes we sped dovra. with the current 
at a rate of about eight miles an hour, with the wind beating 
the cold rain and the spray from the crest of the waves in our 
faces, our only consolation being that we were making miles 
on the journey. The shores continued to be bare, steep walls 
of rock ; not a shrub was anywhere to be seen. About twelve 
miles below Schultz Lake, deciding to camp, tents were 
pitched, and within them our soaked and shivering party 
sought comfort. Little, however, was to be found, for the 
wind, which continued to increase in violence, drove the rain 
through our shelters, saturating blankets and making us 
generally miserable. The morning brought no improvement, 
for the storm still continued. 

It was impossible to make a fire, supposing moss or other 
fuel could have been found, for the latter would have been 
saturated with water. A little alcohol still remaining, tea 
was boiled with it, and dried venison completed our menu. 
As those who have used it well know, this description of meat 
is not the most palatable. It is good, strong, portable food, 
but may be better compared to sole leather than any article 

' of diet. 



By the morning of the first of September the rain had 
ceased and the clouds partially cleared away. The gale, how- 
ever, still continued to blow so fiercely as to frequently whip 
clouds of spray off the surface of the river, so that we were 
quite unable to travel in canoes. 

On the following morning, the wind having fallen suffi- 
ciently, the canoes were again pushed into the current, and 
we glided down stream, in a south-easterly direction, at the 
rate of seven miles an hour. The channel was deep and about 
three hundred yards in width, while the banks, continuing 
to be bold and high, were formed of dark Hjironian schists 
and clay. The schists were chiefly micaceous and horn- 
blendic, such as those occurring about the Lake of the Woods, 
and were found dipping at high angles. 

Four or five miles to the east was a conspicuous range of 
snow-covered hills, probably six hundred feet in height, while 
between them and the river appeared a broad plateau, or a 
high level lake — ^which of the two we could not determine 
from the river bank. Time would not permit of our making 
side investigations when it was possible to be travelling, ■ so 
on we sped, plying the paddles as well as being hurried 
along by the current. Thus for a time we made good prog- 
ress, and as the long miles were quickly made the spirits 
of our little party were cheered. 

Late in the forenoon, as we were rounding a bend in the 
river, an Eskimo in his kyack was sighted ahead, and much 
to our amusement he was soon much farther ahead. The poor 
fellow, seeing our fleet of canoes, and being himself alone, 
evidently thought his safest move was to get out of the way, 
and this he did, leaving us farther behind at every stroke, 
though we were doing our best to catch him. 

I shouted to him in his native tongue, but it was of no use ; 
he did not slacken his pace until, some distance down the 
river, he reached an Eskimo encampment of several topicks. 
Here he landed, hauled up his kyack, and informed the other 



natives of our approach. All eyes keenly watched us. As 
we drew nearer they soon observed by our canoes and personal 
appearance that we were not Indians, as they had conjec- 
tured, but " Kudloonahs " (white men), the friends of the 
Eskimos. I shouted to them, " Chimo! Kudloonah uvagut 
peeaweeunga tacko Innuit." To this they responded with 
cheers and wild gesticulations, and as we landed we were 
received with handshaking and great rejoicing. None showed 
the least sign of hostility. Indeed the ladies exhibited an 
embarrassing amount of cordiality, so much so that it was 
thought wise to make our visit as brief as possible. Having 
" greeted all the brethren," I proceeded to obtain what in- 
formation I could from them regarding our road to the sea, 
and was much pleased to learn that we were close to the 
mouth of the river. I also obtained a sketch-map of our 
course thence to the " sea " or Hudson Bay. There was now 
no doubt as to the route. We were to reach the bay through 
Chesterfield Inlet, which was now not far distant, and at this 
certain knowledge we felt much encouraged. Besides this 
information, several skins were obtained from the natives, 
and also some skin clothing and a few trinkets. One very 
old man asked to be given a passage down the river a few 
miles to another native village. Placing him in our third 
or freighting canoe, and accompanied by an escort of three 
kyacks, we departed, amid a generous exchange of salutes. 

We were pleased to learn from the natives that there were 
no more rapids or obstructions to be encountered. As we pro- 
ceeded, however, we found the current both strong and swift, 
and quite rough in some places, but the Eskimos in their 
kyacks shot ahead from time to time and showed us the best 
channels. Sometimes they fell behind, evidently for the sake 
of having the opportunity of showing how quickly they could 
repass. Just as we had been able to paddle around the 
Indians in their bark canoes, so were these little fellows able 
to paddle around us. Soon after leaving the Eskimo camp 



we went ashore. The river bank here was abrupt and high, 
in the neighborhood of one hundred feet, and on the side of 
this steep bank several new species of plants were collected. 
Marine shells and marl were also found thirty feet above the 
river, while on the top of the bank some Eskimo graves were 
discovered. Out of consideration for our native escorts, the 
graves, already broken by bears or wolves, were not molested. 
When lunch was announced, and we, seating ourselves, pro- 
ceeded to eat with the customary plates, knives and forks, 
the Eskimos were very much amused, and stood watching our 
operations with great interest. Some refreshments were 
offered them, but to our surprise they declined, informing us 
that they had plenty of meat. Eor their own lunch they each 
took a lump of raw venison and a drink of water from the 
river, a very simple but no doubt wholesome meal. 

Before re-embarking I secured several good photographs of 
the Eskimos. At first they were not prepared to be " shot " 
by the camera, but after explaining what I wished to do, they 
were pleased and amused to have their pictures taken, and 
changed their positions when I asked them to do so. By the 
time we had descended eight or ten miles farther down the 
river, our native escorts commenced cheering, hallooing and 
acting in a most hilarious manner. At first we wondered 
what had possessed them, but the cause of their strange actions 
was soon disclosed as we switched around a bend in the river 
and found ourselves close upon a large Eskimo village. As 
we pulled ashore this time there was no need of introducing 
ourselves. Our coming and our character had already been 
lustily proclaimed from half a mile or so up the river until 
the time of landing, so that we were received with great 

Upon going ashore one of the first objects which attracted 
my attention was a small topick, or lodge, constructed of 
beautiful musk-ox robes. I felt inclined to doubt my own 
eyes, for it seemed such a strange waste of luxury. I pro- 



ceeded to this princely dwelling, and finding the owners- 
three young brothers— entered into negotiations with them 
for its purchase. The value asked in exchange for the robes 
being very moderate, they were secured and made into a snug 
bale. Next my attention was drawn to a pile of skins lying 
•on the rocks. As I approached these skins, several Eskimos 
sat upon them, telling me as they did so that the owner was 
away hunting, and therefore I could not buy them. I 
assented, but asked to be allowed to look at them. Even this, 


however, was stoutly refused, as the owner was not present. 
I could not help admiring these fellows for their fidelity to 
one of their number. Some time was then spent in collecting 
information about the country, and in purchasing nicknaeks 
of one kind and another. Presently the owner of the 
«kins returned. He at once proceeded to open up his furs, 
which, with the exception of one wolf -skin, were all musk-ox 
robes, but of inferior quality. The four best skins were 
picked out and reserved, and the frowsy remnant then offered 



to us. The poor skins, I told him, were not the ones w& 
wanted, but for a time he positively refused to sell the good 
ones. After a little discussion, however, the crafty hunter 
came to the conclusion that he wanted a small kettle and some 
gun-caps (for he had an old gun), and so offered me one of 
the skins for these articles. We happened to have a kettle in 
which we had carried our butter, but which had now become 
only an article of extra baggage, so after some " serious con- 
sideration," I concluded to let him have the kettle and some 
caps for the skin. 

It was then my turn to make him an offer. I produced a 
telescope, a jack-knife, and an old shirt, and offered them for 
the three remaining robes. The temptation proved too great ; 
the skins were handed over, and the telescope, knife and shirt 
accepted with great delight and many thanks. Although it 
was now time to camp, and many pressing invitations were 
extended to us to spend the night at the village, it was thought 
wisest for the moral well-being of our party not to do so. 
Besides this, the surface of the country in the neighborhood 
of the village was exceedingly rough, being formed entirely 
of boulders. The Eskimo topicks were pitched upon the rocky 
shore, and it was thought we might -find smoother ground. 
Before we left the village one old Eskimo surprised us very 
much by making a remark in English. I said to him, " Oh ! 
you understand English," whereat he made the amusing 
reply, " ISTo, me no understand English." I tried then to find 
out from the old man where he had learned to speak our 
language, but the only reply I could get from him was that 
he had always been able to speak it. It may be that he had 
accompanied Sir George Back, Sir John Eichardson, or Dr. 
Eae, on one of their Eranklin search expeditions, or perhaps 
he had come from Hudson Bay, where he had been associated 
with some of the American whalers who frequent its waters. 

Followed by many hearty cheers and " tabowetees " (fare- 
wells), we parted from our new but warm-hearted friends. 



As before, we were accompanied by an escort of kyacks, but 
after a time they fell behind and returned to the village. 

As we had been informed by the natives, so we soon found, 
we were at last at the mouth of the great Dubawnt, and grad- 
ually as we passed out into the broad, shallow delta and 
gazed over the deep blue, limitless waters beyond, the gratify- 
ing fact forced itself upon us that we had accomplished what 
we had started out to do, viz., to explore a route through the 
heart of the Barren Lands, where certainly no other white 
men, if indeed Indians or Eskimos, had ever passed. We were 
still, of course, a long way from being out of the Barren Land 
country, but once on the waters of Baker Lake, as we now 
were, the remainder of the road was to some extent knovsm 
to us. 

Before proceeding further with my narrative, I shall 
digress a little, believing that the reader will be interested by 
some particulars concerning the Eskimos. Having in former 
expeditions spent nearly two years among these people, I had 
abundant opportunity for studying their habits and customs 
of life. Some of the observations thus made I shall record 
in the next two chapters. 








The Eskimos, the most northerly inhabitants of the globe, 
are in many respects a strange and interesting people. In 
appearance they are short and well-built, with fat, round 
faces, usually almost entirely devoid of hair; the eyebrows 
and eyelashes are so scanty as to be scarcely discernible, 
giving to their brown, oily faces a singularly bare and homely 
appearance. Their hair, like that of the Indians, is black 
and straight. By the women it is worn plaited, and twisted 
up into three knots, one at either side of the head and one at 
the back. The men wear theirs short, and well down over 
their forehead for protection from the cold in winter and 
from the sun in summer. 

While the Eskimos as a rule are short and homely in ap- 
pearance, I have met with some very handsome, stalwart men, 
•quite up to the standard height of Canadians, and a few 
pretty, charming women. Most of them have bright, soft 
brown eyes, which of themselves are features of beauty; but 
they serve these savages a better and more useful purpose, 
fumishuig marvellous powers of vision and enabling their 
owners to see objects clearly at great distances. The eyes of 
the Anglo-Saxon, even when aided by the telescope, are not 
a match for the bright brown orbs of these " children of the 

The clothing of the Eskimo is made entirely of the skins 
of animals, chiefly of the seal and reindeer, the former being 
used for summer and the latter for the winter. They are 
nicely softened and dressed, and are neatly made up by the 
ivomen, whose chief duty it is to provide clothing for their 
husbands and children. 

^ 123 


The cut of the native garb, both for the men and the 
women, is somewhat peculiar. A man's suit may briefly be 
described as follows : Commencing at the foundation, it con- 
sists of a pair of fur stockings, or duffles, covered by long 
waterproof moccasins which reach to the knees and are just 
met by short seal or deerskia trousers. The suit is completed 
by a jacket or jumper, made of the same material as the 
trousers, which is pulled on over the head, there being no 
opening in front to admit of its being put on like a coat. 
This jacket is provided with a hood, which takes the place of 
a cap, and may either be worn over the head or pushed back 
when not required. 

In the summer season, a single suit of sealskin, made as 
above, constitutes a man's entire clothing, but in the wiater 
time he wears two such suits, the inner one having the hair 
on the inside, and the outer one reversed. 

The female costume is rather more complex in make-up 
than the above. The foot-wear is the same with both sexes, 
but in place of the trousers worn by the men, the women wear 
leggings and trunks, and in place of the jacket a peculiarly 
constructed over-skirt, having a short flap in front and a long 
train, in shape something like a beaver's tail, just reaching to 
the groimd behind. The back of the over-skirt is made very 
full, so as to form a sort of bag, in which the mothers carry 
their children. Like the man's jacket, it is provided with a 
hood, but of much larger size, so as to provide shelter for both 
mother and child. The women are very fond of decorating 
their dresses with beads or other ornaments, and all their 
garments are made with great neatness. 

Like many other savage people, the Eskimos, and especially 
the women, tattoo extensively. They do not all thus adorn 
themselves, but many of them have their faces, necks, arms 
or hands figured over in such a way as to give them a wild 
and savage appearance. 

Many of the ladies, when in full dress, wear headbands,. 



usually made of polished brass or iron, over their foreheads. 
These are held in position by being tied with a cord behind 
the head. 

A stranger custom still is that of wearing stones in the 
cheeks, upon each side of the mouth. This practice is not 
universal with the Eskimos, but, as far as my knowledge ex- 
tends, it is limited to those inhabiting the Mackenzie Kiver 
district. The natives of this region have the reputation of 
being a bad lot, and it is said that when they are heard to 
rattle their cheek-stones against their teeth it is time to be 
on the look-out. The stones are cut in the shape of large 
shirt-studs, and are let through the cheeks by cutting holes 
for them. 

Of the origin of the Eskimo people very little is knoAvn, 
but the most probable theory accounting for their existence 
on this continent is that they were originally Mongolians, 
and at some very early date crossed over the Behring Straits 
and landed in Alaska. This theory is based upon the fact 
that a similarity is traced between the Eskimo language and 
the dialects of some of the Mongolian tribes of northern Asia. 
A certain Eskimo tradition would rather tend to bear out 
this theory. It is something like this : A very long time ago 
there were two brothers made by the beaver and placed on an 
island in the Western Sea. There they lived, feeding upon 
birds which they caught with their hands, but at length food 
grew scarce, and the brothers, being hungry, fought for the 
birds they had taken. This quarrel led to a separation, and 
one brother went to live in the western portion of our " Great 
■IN'orth Land," and became the father of the Eskimos in that 
region ; while the other went still farther east, and became the 
father of the natives of Hudson Bay and Straits. 

The range of the Eskimos is very large, extending com- 
pletely across the northern part of North America — toward 
the south to about the sixtieth parallel of latitude, west of 
Hudson Bay, but east of the bay to about the fifty-fiftk 



parallel; while toward the north their range is almost un- 
limited. They are a very thinly scattered race, roving in 
small bands over great treeless wildernesses. 

My first meeting with the Eskimos led me to think them 
a wild people. There were thirty-six of them, all women and 
children, piled into one of their " oomiacks," or skin boats, 
and all were whooping and yelling at the top of their voices, 
while those not paddling were swinging their arms (and legs, 
too) in the wildest maimer. They were natives of Prince 
of Wales Sound, Hudson Straits, coming out from shore to 
meet the steamship Alert, which to them was a fiery monster 
of mystery. 

Accompanying them was a party of men in kyacks, and 
all were preparing to board the ship without invitation ; but 
the first officer, by brandishing a cordwood stick, and threaten- 
ing to hurl it at them if they came too near — ^backing up the 
menace with the liberal use of some strong English which 
they did not understand— induced them to await his con- 
venience to receive them. 

When the ship was past some shoals near which she was 
steaming, and safely into harbor, the natives were allowed to 
come on board. They were an odd-looking crowd, some of 
them curiously dressed. One old grey-haired chief had 
apparently reached a stage of civilization in his attire not 
common among the Eskimos, for outside of his sealskin 
clothing he wore a long white cotton nightshirt, of which he 
evidently was very proud. The Eskimos are always pleased 
with the acquisition of white men's garments, but their ideas 
as to how and when they should be worn do not always agree 
with ours. 

Early navigators have described the Eskimos as being 
savage tribes, greatly to be feared, and it is true that un- 
fortunate crews have fallen into their hands and been ill- 
treated by them-; but often in such cases the fault has been 
as much with the whites as with the poor savages. They 



really possess very simple, childish natures, but at the same 
' time are characterized by quiet determination and deep 
jealousy, which, when aroused, are likely to lead to acts of 
violence. From my own observations I do not think that the 
Eskimos would, without considerable provocation or great 
temptation, harm anyone falling into their Tianda. 

Though not usually quarrelsome or vicious, they do fight 
with each other, but only at appointed times, when all old 
grudges and differences of opinion are cleared up at once. 
On the appointed day, all the disagreeing parties of the camp 
pair off, and standing at arm's length from each other, strike 
turn about, and in this deliberate, systematic way take satis- 
faction out of each other until one of the combatants cries 
"Ta-bah" (enough). 

The food of the Eskimo, as his name implies, is chiefly raw 
flesh; so the preparation of his meals is an extremely simple 
operation. The culinary department of civilization has no 
place in his life. Keindeer, seals, white whales and walruses 
are to the Eskimo the staple articles of food ; but polar bears, 
Arctic hares and other animals, besides most of the Arctic 
birds, are considered equally good. 

It is rather a novel, if not a repulsive, sight to witness an 
Eskimo feast. The occasion of the feast is the capture of a 
seal, or perhaps a reindeer, which, according to custom during 
the winter season, becomes common property, so that all are 
invited to the lodge of the fortunate hunter to share in the 

The animal's carcase is trailed into the middle of the lodge, 
and when all the guests are assembled, they seat themselves 
on the floor about it. The carcase is then skinned by the host, 
and the pelt laid down to form a dish or receptacle for the 


All things being ready, the party, armed with knives, are 
invited to help themselves, and this they do with great dex- 
terity, and continue to do — not until they have had enough, 



but until the supply is exhausted and absolutely nothing re- 
mains but the skin and skeleton. The blood, being considered 
very fine, is dipped up with skin cups or horn spoons, and 
consumed with the flesh. 

The blubber, or outer layer of fat, which is found on most 
Arctic animals, is separated from the skin and cut into long 
strips about an inch square. Thus prepared, it is swallowed, 
not eaten. It is simply lowered down the throat as one might 
lower a rope into a well. During the summer season the 
blubber is not used as food, but is saved to be used for 
lighting purposes during the long, dark nights of the suc- 
ceeding winter. 

An Eskimo appears to have no idea of a limited capacity 
for food, but usually eats until the supply fails. I knew of 
one exception, however, where an old woman, after doing 
heroically, was forced to yield. 

A party of Eskimos were having a big feast on the carcase 
of a whale, which they consider very good food, when this 
woman, in her ambition, overestimated her capabilities and 
ate until she became quite torpid. Her friends, supposiag 
her to be dead, trailed her oxit and buried her in the snow, 
but a day or two afterwards she kicked off the snow that 
covered her and rejoined her astonished companions. 

!N"ext to stowage capacity, an Eskimo's stomach is noted for 
its powers of digestion. For instance, both the flesh and hide 
of the walrus are common articles of food with them, and 
yet these are so hard and gritty that when skinning or cutting 
up the animal one has to be continually sharpening his 

The skin of a walrus is a good deal like that of an elephant, 
and is from half an inch to an inch and a half in thickness ; 
but, notwithstanding this, and the hardness of its structure, 
the little Eskimo children may often be seen running about 
gnawing pieces of walrus hide as if they were apples. Some- 
times, however, they have no walrus hide or meat of any 



kind to gnaw, for occasionally in the spring season the condi- 
tion of the snow and ice is such as to render hunting impos- 
sible, and though they store up meat in the fall for winter 
use, it is often exhausted before spring. 

When this state of things occurs the condition of the Eski- 
mos is deplorable in the extreme. They are forced to kill 
and eat their wretched dogs, which are even more nearly 
starved than themselves, and next they resort to their skin 
clothing and moccasins, which 
they soak in water until they 
become soft, though perhaps 
not altogether palatable. 

^SText to starvation, perhaps 
the most severe affliction the 
Eskimo has to endure is that 
of snow-blindness. This trouble 
is very prevalent in the spring 
season, and is caused by ex- 
posure to the strong glare of 
the sun upon the glistening 
fields of snow and ice. Snow- 
blindness is thus in reality 
acute inflammation of the eyes, 
and the pain caused by it is 
excruciating, being like what 
one would expect to suffer if 
his eyes were filled with hot salt. 

In order to guard against the occurrence of snow-blindness, 
the Eskimos wear a very ingenious contrivance in the form 
of wooden goggles. These are neatly carved so as to fit over 
the nose and close in to the sockets of the eyes. Instead of 
colored glasses, which the Eskimos have no means of getting, 
these goggles are made with narrow horizontal slits, just wide 
enough to allow the wearer to see through. Thus the excess 
of light is excluded, while the sight is not entirely obstructed. 
9 129 



I speak from experience. 


Like many people in southern Canada, the native of the 
frozen zone possesses a summer and winter residence, and 
occupies each in turn as regularly as the seasons change. His 
winter dwelling is built of snow; his summer lodge is made 
of oil-tanned seal or deerskins, neatly sewn together and sup- 
ported by poles, if such can be procured, or pieces of drift- 
wood spliced together. A flap is left for the door, but there 
is no opening at the top, as in the Indian wigwam or tepee,, 
for, having no fire, they have no need of a chimney. 

The atmosphere of these tents or " topicks," as they are 
called, is usually very sickening to one not accustomed to 
them, for the skins of which they are made are dressed in 
their natural oil, in order to make them water-proof, and 
this has the effect of making them odorous to a degree. 

Topicks vary in size according to the wealth or require- 
ments of the ©ccupants. Sometimes they are scarcely largi^ 
enough to allow more than two of these little people to 
huddle into them, while others are capable of seating twenty 
persons. The commonest form of topick is that of a cone, 
very similar to an Indian tepee, but it is sometimes rectan- 
gular and built with vertical walls about four feet high. 

The furniture of these summer dwellings is simple, con- 
sisting usually of a few skins lying about the rocky floor to 
serve as seats in the daytime and for beds at night, two or 
three sealskin sacks of oil, two shallow stone vessels used 
as lamps, a few hiuiting implements, some little deerskin 
bags used as ladies' work-baskets, several coils of sealskin 
line, a few pairs of moccasins scattered about, and at one 
side of the door the somewhat repulsive remains of a carcase 
consumed at the last meal. Such is the Eskimo's summer 

His winter dwelling in the snow is more interesting and 
curious. It is called an " igloo," and is built in the form of 
a dome with large blocks of snow. The common size of the 
dwelling apartment of an igloo is twelve feet in diameter 



and eight feet in height. This is approached by a succession 
of three or four smaller domes, connected by low archways, 
through which one has to crouch in order to pass. 

The innermost archway, opening into the dwelling apart- 
ment, is about three feet high, and as one enters he steps 
down a foot or more to the level of the floor of the front por- 
tion of the dwelling. The back part, about two-thirds of the 
apartment, is three feet higher than the entrance. 

The front or lower section of the igloo corresponds to a 
front hall, and it is here that the occupants, as they enter, 
beat the snow off their clothing, or remove their outer gar- 


ments, when they wish to step up into the higher living 

The floor of the entire igloo consists simply of snow, but 
in this upper apartment it is well covered with deerskin 
robes, so that it is not melted by the warmth of those who 
sit or lie upon it. 

Above the doorway of the igloo is placed a window to admit 
light into the dwelling. This is formed of a large square 
slab of ice, neatly inserted into the wall of the dome, and it 
serves well the purpose for which it is intended, admitting 
a pleasant, soft light. Above the window a much-needed 
ventilating hole is usually made. This, because of the passing 
current of warm air, becomes rapidly enlarged, and requires 
to be frequently plastered up with snow. 

Sometimes one of the long approaches or corridors is made 
to serve for two or three dwellings, each of which is connected 



by low areiiways with the innermost of the smaller domes. 
Usually, opening out of the inner dome, each family has one 
or two small pantries, where they keep a supply of meat 
sufficient for a week or two. 

The furniture of the snow-house is much the same as that 
of the skin topick already described, but the stone lamps 
come more into prominence, contributing light to the dwell- 
ing during the long, dark winter nights. These lamps are 
simply stone vessels, usually haK-moon shaped, and formed 
neatly of some description of soft rock. The rounding side of 
the vessel is made much deeper than the other, which shoals 
up gradually to the edge. The wick of the lamp consists of 
dried, decomposed moss, pressed and formed by the iiagers 
into a narrow ridge across the shallow or straight edge of the 
dish. In this position it absorbs the seal oil which is placed 
in the vessel, and, when lit, bums with a clear, bright flame, 
free from smoke. The lamp is then made self-feeding by 
suspending a lump of seal blubber above it, at a height vary- 
ing according to the amount of light and consequent supply 
of oil required. This melts with the heat of the flame and 
drips into the vessel of the lamp. One lump keeps up the 
supply for a considerable length of time, the intensity of 
light being increased or diminished at will by lowering or 
raising the lump of blubber suspended above the flame. 

Lamps are usually placed at either side of the entrance in 
the upper apartment. Both are kept burning brightly the 
greater part of the long, cold, dark days of winter, but during 
the hours of sleep they are " turned down," that is, the lumps 
of blubber are raised ; or sometimes one lamp is extinguished 
and the other made to bum dimly. These lamps, though 
chiefly designed to furnish light, also contribute a consider- 
able amount of heat to the iglocs. It is often necessary to 
turn them down to prevent the snow walls from being melt«d 
by the heat, though the temperature outside may ba 40 or 
50 degrees below zero. 



Towards spring the snow-houses become very damp, and 
to prevent the roofs from being melted away fresh snow has 
to be added on the outside. Before they are abandoned for 
the skin tents they sometimes become so soft that they cave 
in upon the occupants, causing much sickness in the form of 
colds and pneumonia. 

In their workmanship the Eskimos are remarkably neat. 
Wood is used for manufacturing purposes when it is avail- 
able, but all they are able to procure is of a fragmentary 
nature, such as has drifted from some distant shore, or from 
the wreck of an unfortunate vessel. It is from this rough 
and scanty material they frame their kyacks, make their 
sleds, tent-poles, and the handles of their spears and harpoons ; 
from it they fashion their bows and many other useful or 
ornamental things, and by exercise of untiring perseverance 
and skill they manage to produce marvellous results. For 
example, a paddle is often made of two or three pieces of 
wood, but these are joined together so neatly that if it were 
not for the seal thong lashings the joints would not be 

The lashings are put on green, or after having been softened 
in water, and are drawn tightly, so that when they become 
dry and shrink they produce strong and rigid joints. 

The process by which these lashing^thongs and heavy lines 
for hunting purposes, as well as the small thread for sewing, 
are manufactured, is very interesting. A heavy harpoon line, 
used in the hunt for securing walruses, is-made from the skin 
of the " square flipper " seal, a large species about eight feet 
long. For such use the skin is not removed from the carcase 
in the usual way, but is pulled off without cutting it, as one 
might pull off a wet stocking. The whole hide is thus pre- 
served in the form of a sack. It is then placed in water, and 
allowed to remain there for several days, until the thin, 
black outer skin becomes decomposed. .This, together with 
the hair, is readily peeled off, and a clean, white pelt remains. 



Two men then take the pelt in hand, and with a sharp 
knife cut it into one long, even, white line, by commencing 
at one end and cutting around and around until at length 
the other end is reached. One skin in this way will make 
three hundred feet of line. In this condition it is allowed to 
partially dry, after which it is tightly stretched and dried 
thoroughly in the sun. The result obtained is a hard, even 
line, three-eighths of an 'inch in diameter, but equal in 
strength to a three-inch manila rope. 

I have seen such a liue, when imbedded in the flesh of a 
walrus at one end, and spiked to the hard ice at the other by 
a stout iron pin, as well, as being held by six men, plough a 
furrow six inches deep through the ice, bend the spike and 
drag the six men to the edge of the ice, where the tug of war 
ended, the walrus, victorious, taking the unbreakable line 
with him into the deep. 

Smaller seal thongs, such as are extensively used as lash- 
ings for komiticks, kyacks, handles, etc., are made in much 
the same way as I have described, except that the hide of 
smaller seals is used, and often the process of removing the 
outer black skin is omitted, the hair being simply scraped off 
with a sharp knife or scraper. 

Finer lines, such as those used for fishing, or for winding 
whip-stocks, or thread for sewing purposes, are manufac- 
tured from reindeer sinew. The best is that obtained from 
along the spine, which is always saved from the carcase. It 
is prepared for use by first drying and then rubbing till it 
becomes quite soft, when it is readily frayed out into fine 
fibres, in which condition it is used for fine needlework ; but 
when coarser thread or stout cord is required, these individual 
fibres are plaited together with wonderful neatness and 
rapidity. One woman can make fifty or sixty yards of this 
cord or thread in a day. 

With the Eskimos all joints of whatever kind are secured 
bv these thongs, they having no nails or screws to supply their 



place. In making a komitick the cross slats are all secured 
to the runners by seal thongs. In framing a kyack the 
numerous pieces are lashed together, usually with seal or 
•deerskin, though sometimes, and preferably, with whalebone. 
The Eskimo kyack, or canoe, consists of a light frame 
neatly made from all sorts of scrap-wood, and strongly jointed 
together in the way just described. The frame having been 
«ompleted, it is then covered with green skins, either of seal 


■or deer, dressed, with the hair removed. The skins are joined 
to each other as they are put on by double water-tight seams, 
and are drawn tightly over the frame, so that when they dry 
they become very hard, and as tight as a drum-head. 

A full-size kyack thus made is about twenty-two feet long, 
a foot and a half wide, and a foot deep. It is completely 
covered over on the top, excepting the small hole where the 
paddler sits, so that though an extremely cranky craft in the 
lands of a novice, it is used in perfect safety, even in very 



rough water, by an expert. Indeed the Eskimos have an. 
arrangement by which they can travel while almost submerged 
in the water. They have a thin waterproof parchment coat 
which they pull on over their heads in rough weather. This 
they place on the outside of the rim of the opening of the 
kyack, and tie securely, so that if the boat were to turn 
upside down the water could not rush in. 

An Eskimo in his kyaek can travel much faster than twO' 
men can paddle in an ordinary canoe. I have known them to- 
make six miles an hour in dead water, whereas four miles 
would be good going for a canoe. 

The " oomiack," or woman's boat, is a flat-bottomed affair 
of large carrying capacity. Like the kyack, it is a skin- 
covered frame, the many pieces of which are lashed together 
with thongs of skin or whalebone; but instead of being 
covered on top it is open, is of much broader model and 
not so sharp at the ends. It is chiefly used by the women 
for moving camp from place to place, but is never used in 
the hunt. It is essentially a freighting craft, whereas the 
kyack is used only for hunting or speedy travel. Oomiacks- 
are often made large enough to carry thirty or forty people. 
They are propelled by ordinary paddles, not by the long 
double-bladed ones used with the kyacks. 

The komitick is a sled of rather peculiar design, consisting: 
simply of two parallel runners, twelve or fourteen feet long,, 
built of wood and placed about eighteen inches apart, upon 
the top of which are lashed a number of crossbars or slats. 
The runners are shod either with ivory or with mud, the 
latter answering the purpose exceedingly well. The mud 
covering is, of course, put on in a soft state, when it can be 
easily worked and formed into proper shape. When the mud 
is on, and the surface nicely smoothed off, it is allowed to- 
freeze, and speedily becomes as hard as stone. In order to 
complete the vehicle and put it in good running order, there 
is one thing to be done; the shoeing, whether of mud or 




ivory, must be covered vpith a thin coating of ice, in order to 
do which the Eskimo overturns the komitick, fills his spacious 
mouth with water from some convenient source, and then 
from his lips deposits a fine stream along the runner, where, 
quickly freezing, it forms a smooth, glassy surface. 

During the winter season the komitick forms an important 
factor in the Eskimo's life. It is drawn by a team, not of 
horses, nor even reindeer, but of dogs. The number of 
animals forming a team varies greatly, sometimes consisting 
of not more than three good dogs, but at other times of fifteen 
or more attached to a single sled. Each dog is fastened 
to a single line, the length of which varies according to the 
merits of its owner. Thus the best dog in the team acts as 
leader, and has a line twenty or twenty-five feet in length. 

In order to control the team, the driver carries a whip of 
somewhat extraordinary dimensions. This instrument of 
torture has a short wooden handle, only about eighteen inches 
long, but what is lacking in stock is more than made up in 
lash, for this latter, made of the hide of the square flipper 
seal, is nearly thirty feet in length. An Eskimo can handle 
his whip with great dexterity, being able not only to reach 
any particular dog in the pack, but to strike any part of its 
body, and with as much force as the occasion may require. 

Another curious Eskimo practice, observed by the women, 
is that of daily chewing the boots of the household. As 
already intimated, these boots, or moccasins, are made of oil- 
tanned seal or deerskins. The hair is always removed from 
the skin, of which the foot of the moccasin is made, but not 
always from that part forming the leg. However, the point 
is, that these moccasins, after having been wet and dried 
again, become very hard, and the most convenient or effective 
— or possibly the most agreeable — way of softening them 
seems to be by mastication. "Whatever njay be the reason for 
adopting this method, the fact is that nearly every morning 
the native women soften the shoes of the family most beauti- 



fully by chewing them. What to us would seem the disagree- 
able part of this operation cannot be thoroughly understood 
by one who has not some idea of the flavor of a genuine old 
Eskimo shoe. 

In one of my trips in the land of the Eskimo I had an 
escort composed not only of men and women, old and young, 
but also of little children, several of whom could not have 
been more than five or six years old, and it was marvellous 
to see the powers of endurance of these little creatures, for 
they travelled along with the rest of the party, a distance of 
twenty-five miles, having no other object in view than that 
of seeing the white stranger. 

The " shin-ig-bee," or Eskimo sleeping-bag, is an article 
essential to the comfort of the traveller when making long 
■overland journeys during the cold winter season. It consists 
of a long, oval, waterproof skin bag, lined with another of 
similar shape, made of soft but heavy winter deerskins. 
The opening is not at the top, but near it, across one side, 
and is made with flap and buttons, so that it can be closed 
Tip as closely as desired. 

When the traveller is provided with this kind of a bed he 
does not trouble himself to make a snow lodge for the night, 
as without it he would have to do, but he simply crawls into 
Tiis " shin-ig-bee," buttons up the opening on the windward 
side, and goes to sleep, no matter what the weather or tem- 
perature may be. With the mercury at 40 below zero a man 
may in this way sleep warm and comfortable, without any 
"fire, out upon the bleak frozen plains. 




Deer hunting is perhaps the most favored and remunera- 
tive occupation of the Eskimos. In some districts seals and 
other animals are extensively sought after, but the reindeer 
is the universal stand-by. It is hunted with the bow and 
arrow or spear, and with guns when these can be obtained. 

Having already stated that the only wood available by the 
Eskimos is broken fragments of driftwood, the inquiry may 
arise, where do they get material from which to make 
bows ? The answer is, that lacking material for making such 
bows as are ordinarily used, their ingenuity comes to the 
rescue and designs a composite bow, which answers the pur- 
pose equally well. This implement of the chase is, in the 
first place, made either of pieces of wood or of horn, neatly 
joined together. In order to give it strength and elasticity, 
a stout plaited sinew cord is stretched from end to end around 
the convexity of the bow, and then twisted until it is brought 
to the required tension. By this mode of construction, when 
the bow is drawn, the wood or horn is only subjected to a 
compressive strain, while the sinew thong takes up the tension. 

Thus very powerful bows are made, though of rough ma- 
terial ; but in order to use them with effect in killing deer, the 
sagacity of the hunter is often severely tested, since with 
the Eskimo there is no cover behind which he can hide or 
creep upon his prey. The hunter's first precaution is to 
keep the deer to windward, for the moment they catch the 
scent of an enemy they are off. To get within range of the 
wary animals upon the open plains or rocky barrens is often 



a difficult matter. A common method when several hunters 
are together is for some to take positions in concealment, 
while the others drive the deer their way, causing them to 


pass within range of the deadly shafts. At a moderate dis- 
tance an Eskimo with his ingeniously constructed bow can 
drive an arrow its full length into a deer. 

Occasionally vast herds of deer, numbering many thou- 



sands, are met with, and at such times their numbers appear 
to give them confidence. The hunter then has no trouble in 
approaching them, but may go up and kill as many as he 
desires, either with bow and arrow or with spear. 

The spear, however, is chiefly tised for killing in the water. 
At certain seasons of the year, when migrating, the d^er 
cross streams, rivers or lakes in great numbers, and these 
crossings are commonly effected year after year in the same 
place. The hunter, knowing of these places, lies in wait, and 
often from his kyack spears large numbers as they are 
swimming past. 

When more deer are killed than are required for immediate 
use, the carcases are " cached," that is, they are covered over 
by piles of stones to preserve them from the wolves and foxes, 
and the place of their burial is marked, so that during the 
succeeding winter- and spring, if food becomes scarce, these 
meat stores may be resorted to. When required, the meat 
thus stored is often quite tainted or decomposed, but it has 
to be pretty bad when a hungry Eskimo will not eat it. 

Seal Huntiitg. 

Seal hunting is a most curious and interesting form of 
sport. The seals are hunted in entirely different ways at 
different times of the year. 

During the entire winter season they keep holes open 
through the shore ice, but because of the depth of snow they 
are not seen until the warm spring sun exposes their hiding 
places. The Eskimo hunter has, however, a way of finding 
them before this. He harnesses a dog, trained for the work, 
and, armed with seal harpoon, leads him out to the snow- 
covered field, where the two walk in a zigzag course, imtil 
the sagacious animal catches the scent of the seal and takes 
his master straight to its secret abode. 

Here, under the hard crusted snow, it has formed for itself 
quite a 'commodious dwelling, but, unlike the Eskimo snow- 



house, its doorway opens into the water, instead of into the 
air. The doorway, which is in the form of a round hole, 
just large enough to admit the seal, is kept from freezing up 
by the wary animal, which ever keeps itself in readiness, 
upon the slightest suspicion of danger, to plunge in. 

Usually upon the arrival of the hunter, the seal, if at home, 
hearing the fooisteps ahove, quickly vacates the premises. 
The Eskimo, then, taking advantage of its absence, ascertains 
the exact location of the hole in the ice by thrusting his long, 
slender spear down through the snow. When the exact posi- 
tion of the hole is fqund, its centre is marked by erecting a 
little pinnacle of snow directly above it. 

This done, a long and tedious wait follows, during which 
time the patient hunter often suffers much from the cold, for 
he is obliged to remain quite still, not uncommonly from early 
morning until evening. In order to keep his feet from freez- 
ing while thus remaining for hours upon the snow, a deer- 
skin bag is commonly used to stand in. 

During the interval of the seal's absence from home the 
doorway becomes frozen over, and it is on account of this fact 
that the hunter is made aware of its return, for when the 
seal comes back and finds its hole crusted over, it commences 
to blow upon the ice to melt it. This is the hunter's long- 
desired signal, and the moment he hears it, he places the 
point of his harpoon at the mark on the snow, and thrusts the 
weapon vertically down into the hole, almost invariably with 
deadly effect. The seal, thus harpooned in the head, is 
instantly killed, and is hauled out by the line attached to the 

Some seasons, when the ice is covered by a great depth of 
snow, the dogs are not able to scent the seals' houses, and 
then the Eskimo has to depend upon other sources for food, 
or else go on short rations. 

In the spring, as the snow disappears, the seals' winter 
quarters are demolished, and they themselves are exposed to 



view. Then the Eskimo is obliged to resort to other methods 
of- getting at them. When one is observed, the direction of 
the wind is noted ; then the hunter, keeping himself to lee- 
ward of the seal, walks to within about a quarter of a mile 



of it. Beyond this he begins to crouch, and advances only 
when the seal's head is down. The seal is one of the most 
wide-awake of all animals, and has the habit of throwing up 
its head quickly every few seconds to guard against danger. 



When its head is down upon the ice its eyes are shut, and it 
is said that in these brief intervals it takes its sleep. How- 
ever this may be, the hunter, by carefully watching the seal's 
movements, is able, without much difficulty, to get within 
about two hundred yards of it; but for closer quarters other 
tactics are necessary, and iiere the real sport begins. 

The hunter lies down at his full length upon the ice. 
Seal takes Eskimo, who is able to talk seal perfectly, to be 
one of its kinsmen; and indeed there is a great deal of re- 
semblance between the genera, for both are similarly clothed, 
and the Eskimo, living largely upon the flesh and oil of the 
seal, is similarly odorous. As the two lie there upon the ice, 
a most amusing sort of conversation is kept up between them. 
Seal makes a remark and flips his tail. Eskimo replies in a 
similar manner, making the gesture with his foot, and at the 
same time throws himself a little forward. Seal soon has 
something further to say, and again flips his tail. Eskimo 
replies as before, and closes up slightly farther the distance 
between them. 

When the seal's head is down, the hunter, who ever keeps 
his eye on his prey, is able to approach still nearer by drag- 
ging himself forward upon his elbows. This manoeuvring 
goes on for some time, until the distance between the per- 
formers has been reduced to a few yards, and sometimes to a 
very few feet. 

When near enough to make a sure shot, the Eskimo takes 
his bow and arrow from his side and sends a shaft through 
the head of his outwitted companion. Sometimes, instead of 
the bow and arrow, a harpoon is used with equal effect. 

I knew an Eskimo who was so expert at this kind of sport 
that he was able to catch seals with his teeth. 

In order to secure one by shooting, as just described, it is 
necessary to finish it instantly, for if only shot through the 
body, or even through the heart, it will throw itself into its 
hole and thus be lost. 



During tlie season of open water still another method of 
seal hunting has to be adopted. There is now no ice to per- 
form upon, so the kyack has to take its place, and in this 
light craft the Eskimo pursues his prey in the open sea or 
in the chaimels of water among the ice. 

The weapon now used is not the bow, but a specially 
designed style of harpoon, which may be thrown long dis- 
tances from the hand. The bow and arrow are useless, 
because of the difficulty of instantly killing the seal by a 
shaft aimed from a kyack. This harpoon is a light form 
of spear, having an adjustable ivory head to which is attached 
a long plaited sinew line. This line is wound on the handle 
of the harpoon, and attached to the end of it is a small float. 

When a seal makes its appearance within twenty or thirty 
yards of the hunter, the harpoon, thus arranged, is thrown, 
and if the seal is struck, the ivory head, which becomes 
buried in the flesh, is detached from the shank, and as the 
seal plunges about, or dives, the line is quickly unwound 
from the floating handle. 

Unless killed outright, the seal quickly disappears with 
line and float ; but as it can remain under water only a few 
minutes at a time, it must soon reappear, and as it nears the 
surface, the little float comes to the top and shows the hunter 
where to prepare for the next charge. Thus the poor wounded 
animal's chances of escape are small. 

Waleus Hunting. 

Perhaps the most exciting and dangerous sport of the 
Eskimo is that of hunting the walrus. 

This animal, sometimes called the sea-horse, is large, power- 
ful and often vicious. It is considered valuable both as food 
and for the supply of ivory which its immense tusks yield. 
The walrus is hunted chiefly from the kyack, either in open 
water in the neighborhood of sandy shores, or about the edge 
10 145 


of floating ice, upon which it delights to lie and bask in the 

A special equipment is required for this kind of hunting. 
It consists, besides the kyack and paddle, of a large harpoon, 
a heavy line with box in which to coil it, a large inflated seal- 
skin float, and a long lance. This walrus harpoon is an 
ingeniously devised weapon, consisting of an ivory shank 
fitted to a block of the same material by a ball and socket 
joint. These are stiffly hinged together by stout sealskin 
thongs, and the block is then permanently attached to a 
wooden handle about four feet in length. The ivory shank, 
which is about fifteen inches long, is slightly curved, and 
tapers to a rounded point at the end remote from the handle. 
To this point is again fitted an ivory head, about four inches 
long, let into which is an iron or steel blade. Through the 
centre of the ivory head a heavy line is passed and strongly 
looped. Then, the shank and "head being in position, the line 
is drawn tightly and fastened to the wooden handle by an 
ivory pin and socket catch. The remaining portion of the 
line is neatly coiled, and is provided at the end with a small 

The line used is that made from the skin of the square 
flipper seal, as already described, and may be two or three 
hundred feet in length, though sometimes not so long. The 
line box is sim^ply a small round parchment-covered frame, 
about the size of the lid of a cheese-box, and is fastened to 
the top of the kyack, behind the paddler. 

The sealskin float is a peculiar-looking object, consisting 
of the entire skin of a seal, removed from the carcase, as 
before described, without cutting it. The hair is removed 
from the pelt, which is then dressed as black parchment. 
The natural opening at the mouth of the skin sack is pro- 
vided with an ivory nozzle and plug. By blowing into the 
nozzle the skin is inflated, and may be kept in that condition 
by inserting the plug. At the tail-end of the float is an ivory 



cross-head, to which the loop at the end of the harpoon line 
may be readily attached. 

I. Walrus Harpoon. 2. Walrus Lance. 3. Seal Harpoon. 4. Seal Spear. 
5. Bird Spear. 6. Small Seal Harpoon. 

The lance completes the walrus hunter's equipment. This 
instrument is formed of a long iron or ivory bar having a 



steel blade point. The bar is fitted to a wooden handle by a 
ball and socket joint, and stiffly hinged with thongs as in the 
case of the harpoon. The object of the joint is tq prevent the 
lance from being broken when thrust into a walrus, as other- 
wise it would be by the animal plunging about. 

Equipped as above, the Eskimo hunters go out during the 
season of open water in pursuit, of walruses, which, feeding 
upon clams, are usually found about sandy shores or islands. 
Single animals are sometimes found, but more commonly 
they are in small herds. When feeding they remain in about 
the same place, but can stay under water for only about three 
minutes at a time. They come to the surface to breathe, 
sport about for a short time, then go down to the bottom and 
dig clams from the sand for some three minutes, rising 
again to the surface. The Eskimo, taking advantage of their 
necessity, advances on them only when they are busily occu- 
pied at the bottom of the sea. When a walrus reappears at 
the surface, the hunter, who with harpoon in hand and line 
attached to float awaits its return, hurls his harpoon with 
great force and precision, burying it deeply in the walrus's 

The wounded monster, maddened by pain, plunges into the 
water, dives to the bottom, and endeavors to escape. The 
plunging readily causes the ball and socket joint of the har- 
poon to give, and this allows the head of the harpoon, which 
is buried in the animal, to become detached and form a 
button on the end of the harpoon line. 

The detached handle floats upon the water, but the line is 
securely fastened to the body of the walrus, which, in trying 
to escape, takes with him the line and attached inflated seal- 
skin; but though he may take this buoy under, and keep it 
down for a short time, he cannot do so long. 

Soon it reappears at the surface, and the hunter, seeing it, 
makes for the spot and awaits the returning walrus. The 
moment his head appears, harpoon or lance is hurled at it 

■ 148 


as before, and if not with fatal results, the same manoeuvres 
are repeated. In this way often two or three harpoon lines 
and floats are attached to one walrus, but when so hampered 
it is considered well secured, and is finally despatched by the 
long, keen lance. 

When, however, the attack is made in the neighborhood of 
heavy ice, as it frequently is, the hunt is much less likely to 
result successfully. Because of the floating crystal, the hunter 
often finds it difiiciilt to follow the movements of his game, 
and even if successful in this and in placing a harpoon or 
two, he is often defeated in the end by the line being torn 
from the float, which has become fast in the broken ice. 
Thus once freed, the wounded animal usually makes good 
his escape. 

Occasionally these walrus contests result disastrously to 
the hunter, for the sea-horse is by no means a passive, harm- 
less creature, submitting without resistance to the attacks of 
its enemies. Frequently one — or a number of them to- 
gether — will make a charge upon the assailants, attacking 
them viciously with their huge tusks, which, if brought in 
contact with an Eskimo, are likely to make a sorry-looking 
object of him. Of course, through long experience and prac- 
tice in the chase, the Eskimo hunters become very expert in 
dodging and foiling a charge, but sometimes they are caught 
and roughly handled by these uncouth monsters of the sea. 

Upon one occasion an old hunter, named Goto, whom I 
knew, met with a serious accident while hunting walruses in 
his kyack. A number of them charged upon him suddenly, 
and he being unable to get out of their way, his frail craft 
was broken and torn to shreds, and his body was frightfully 
bruised and lacerated before he made his escape. The poor 
fellow recovered, however, but only after months of sore 

For a short time during the autumn season the sea-horse 
is hunted without the assistance of the kyack. The new ice 



being thin, the walruses break up through it at any place, and 
sport about in the water-holes thus formed. Then the 
hunters — for several of them usually go together — march out 
upon the ice and attack them from the edge of the water- 
holes. This method of hunting is, however, rather dangerous, 
as the animals have an ugly habit of noting the position of 
their assailants, then disappearing below the water, and in a 
moment presenting themselves below the ice at the spot where 
the men stand. 

The Eskimos, who are familiar with this manoeuvre, change 
their position the moment one of the crafty brutes goes down, 
and stand, harpoons in hand, ready to receive him when he 
returns crashing through the ice with deadly designs upon his 
craftier adversaries. 

It is an easier matter to harpoon a walrus thus in the ice 
than it is to secure him, for here the " oweta," or float, cannot 
be used to advantage, and it is no easy matter to hold a three 
thousand pounder of the sea. However, this is attempted, 
and when one or more harpoons are made fast to the walrus 
the ends of the lines are spiked down to the ice by stout spikes, 
and in this way the brute is very powerfully anchored; but, 
as I have before stated, in spite of all that can be done, he 
often breaks away and takes the lines with him into the deep. 

PoLAE Beae Hunting. 

Polar bear hunting is an extremely dangerous and exciting 
sport. An Eskimo rarely ever cares to tackle a bear single- 
handed, but two men, armed with lances, do not hesitate to 
attack this monarch of the north. 

The method adopted in Jiunting a polar is as follows : Two 
men, armed only with lances, approach from opposite sides 
at the same time. Then, as they close upon it, and the bear 
charges either man, the other rushes forward with his lance. 
Thus they let out its life-blood. It requires cool heads and 
steady nerves to cope successfully with a polar in this 



way, but both of these characteristics the Eskimos possess in 
a marked degree, and it is comparatively seldom that acci- 
dents happen while they are thus engaged. 

These bears, which live almost entirely upon seals, are 
usually found near the seashore, and often out some distance, 
swimming in the water, where they can live for a considerable 
length of time. The Eskimos attack them here as well as 
upon the land, but in the water they are treacherous enemies 
to deal with, as they are expert swimmers and divers. They 
are very liable to surprise one by suddenly disappearing 
only to reappear at embarrassingly close quarters. 

The Eskimo custom in bear hunting is, that whoever first 
sees a bear is the owner of the carcase, no matter who kills 
it; but the skin is divided up among the several hunters. 

A bearskin is so heavy that an Eskimo has no special 
object in preserving it whole, but he finds the greatest use for 
it when cut into small pieces. In this condition it is com- 
monly used by hunters as mats, which they tie under them 
when crawling over the ice after seals, or across the wet 
plains after deer. The pieces of bearskin act as skates, upon 
which they can easily drag themselves along. 

BiKD Hunting. 

The Eskimo method of hunting birds is chiefly with a spear 
of somewhat peculiar design. It is in all about five feet long, 
and consists of a wooden handle terminated at one end by a 
slender barbed ivory or iron rod, sharply pointed. About 
half way up the handle, three pointed barbed ivory fingers 
are securely fastened. The handle is then fitted into a wooden 
socket, which is held in the hand, and from which the spear 
is thrown. It is claimed that by means of the wooden socket 
the spear can be thrown with greater precision than by the 
bare hand, to which it would adhere more or less. However 
that may be, an Eskimo can hurl his bird-spear a marvellously 
long distance and with deadly effect. 



If the point of the spear misses the bird, one of the side 
fingers is likely to pierce it or catch it between the fingers 
and the spear handle. 

In this way ptarmigan, ducks, and other land and sea fowl 
are obtained in considerable numbers. They are usually 
speared while sitting in flocks upon the snow or in the water, 
but they are also frequently killed in this way when on the 
wing. Sometimes the. bow and arrow is used for bringing 
doAvn the feathered game, but the spear is the instrument 
chiefly employed. 


Fish are caught both by spearing and with the hook. The 
latter is of the crudest design and is used in trolling. A troll 
consists of a heavy iron hook, fastened to the face of a small 
ivory disk, to which is attached a fine, strong line, made from 
plaited deerskin sinews. 

Fish are not, however, caught so much with the hook as 
they are by the spear. Indeed, it is chiefly by means of the 
harpoon and spear that the Eskimo larder is supplied. The 
fish-spear is a kind of three-pronged barbed fork, fastened to 
a handle, and is used chiefly for spearing flsh through the 
ice, and with good results in the hands of an expert. 

I tried my hand at flsh spearing in the north, but lacked 
the patience necessary for success. Many times, however, I 
purchased from the Eskimos the magniflcent trout and white- 
fish by which their efforts were rewarded. 

The Eskimo method of spearing is as follows: First, the 
most favorable spot in the lake or river is selected, and then 
a hole is cut through the ice. With some kind of a bait, which 
they lower into the water by means of a string, they endeavor 
to attract the flsh to the hole. When they appear they are 
thrust through by the spear and hauled out upon the ice. 
Great numbers of beautiful flsh are caught by the Eskimos 
in this way during the fall and winter seasons. 



Trapping is not extensively followed, unless by the Eskimos 
living V7itliin reach of the Hudson's Bay Company's posts, 
perhaps because of the inefficiency of the native traps, but 
also owing to the comparatively slight value to the Eskimos 
of the animals which may be caught. For instance, the wolf 
is an animal little sought for, because his flesh is not con- 
sidered good food, and his skin is no better for clothing than 
the skin of the deer, which is much more easily procured. 
So also with the fox. Both wolves and foxes are, however, 
caught to some extent by " dead fall " traps, built of stones, 
or of snow, and so arranged that when the animal enters the 
trap and touches the bait, a heavy stone is caused to fall and 
kill or imprison him. 


The Eskimo, or " Innuit," as he calls himself, being of a 
jovial, merry disposition, has various forms of amusement. 
A common one among the men is that of competing v/ith each 
other in throwing the harpoon at a mark on the snow. With 
such practice they become powerful and expert harpooners. 

A rather amusing incident happened in this connection at 
one time during my Eskimo experiences. I, too, had been 
exercising myself in the art of harpoon throwing, and one 
day, having become somewhat expert, y^as thus amusing my- 
self when a party of natives came along. One of their num- 
ber, doubtless supposing me to be a novice, stood up at what 
he thought a safe distance, and cried, " Atiay me-loo-e-ah 
took!" (Go ahead', throw). Promptly accepting the challenge, 
I hurled my harpoon, which made so straight for the aston- 
ished man's breast that he did not know which way to jump, 
and barely got out of the way in time to save himself. As 
the shaft passed him and went crashing through a flour barrel 
behind where he had stood, his companions had a great laugh 
at his expense. 

Another source of much amusement is the game of foot- 



ball, which they play with the bladder of a walrus. Their 
game is played neither according to Rugby nor Association 
rules, but wholly without rule or system. Men and women, 
old and young, join in the chase after the ball with equal 
delight. " Here a woman, carrying her child on her back, 
may be seen running at full speed after the ball, and the next 
moment lying at full length with her naked child floundering 
in the snow a few feet beyond her. A minute later the 


child is in its place, and- the mother, nearly choking with 
laughter, is seen elbowing her way after the ball again." 

A popular kind of indoor sport, played much during the 
long days of winter, is a game something like our old game 
of cup and ball. It is played with a block of ivory, cut so as 
to somewhat resemble the form of a bear, which it is 
supposed to be. The ivory is drilled full of holes in a regular 
and systematic way, and to the neck of the block an ivory pin, 



four or live inches in length, is attached by means of a sinew 
cord about a foot long. To prevent twisting of this 
cord, a little ivory swivel is inserted in the middle of it, and 
the game is played by swinging up the ivory block and catch- 
ing it upon the pin. The various holes in the block count 
differently, so that there is really a good deal of skill in the 

Running and wrestling are sometimes indulged in, though 
not often continued with interest. 

The children play among themselves much as they do in 
the civilized south. A favorite amusement is that of playing 
house, at which they may be seen busily engaged almost any 
pleasant summer day about an Eskimo village. The play- 
houses consist simply of rings of stones, and for dolls the 
Eskimo children are content with pretty pebbles or chips of 
wood or ivory. The actors, with their families, go visiting 
from one house to another, and have their imaginary feasts 
and all the rest just as our children have. 

At Cape Prince of Wales, Hudson Straits, the Eskimos 
have been observed to play at the game of tilting. For this 
sport a very large igloo is built, having a great pUlar in the 
centre of it. Ivory rings are hung from the roof, and the 
players, armed with spears, walk rapidly round the pillar, 
and vie with each other in catching the rings on their spears. 

The people are not noted for being musical, though they 
have some songs. 

The home or family circle is, as a rule, a happy one. It 
is not broken up by the brawling sot, nor is it often the scene 
of poverty and want. Never is this the case while the rest of 
the community have plenty. All families share alike in 
times of famine, and in seasons of plenty all rejoice together. 
Thas there is no such thing as class distinction among them, 
but all are upon an equal footing ; every man provides for the 
wants of his own family by hunting. They have, therefore, 
no need for workmen's unions, nor for protective associations, 



but all live together in peace and unity. Of course, I am 
here speaking in a general way, for I have already spoken of 
occasional fights which take place. 

The Eskimo marriage is an exceedingly simple institution, 
and is not performed in any ceremonious way. It is purely 
a love union, requiring only the sanction of the parents of 
the bride. When a young man and young woman come to 
the conclusion that they were made for each other, and desire 
to become one, having the consent of the girl's parents, they 
simply take each other and start up an igloo of their own. 
Eskimo brides are usually very young, and often very bonnie 
creatures. They lose much of their beauty, however, in early 
life, and at about forty mature into ugly old dames. 

An Eskimo family rarely consists of more than three chil- 
dren, and these are carried in the hood upon their mother's 
back until they are about two years old. During this time 
they have no clothing apart from their mother's. Newborn 
infants are licked by their mother's tongue, and are some- 
times kept in a rabbitskin or bag of feathers for a time before 
being carried upon the mother's back. 

It is usual for a man to have only one wife, though it is 
not uncommon for him to have two, or even three, if he can 
provide for them. The first Eskimo encountered on our 
journey, as I have related, had two wives, each having three 
children. As a rule the men are faithful to their wives, 
although sometimes they trade with each other for a few 
weeks or months, and afterwards receive again their first 

If any member of the family is seriously ill, a peculiar 
kind of prayer is repeated over the afflicted one by the father 
or mother of the family. The prayer — for it can hardly be 
called anything else — is loaded vnth superstition. The parent 
prepares for the ceremony by placing a " poalo," or mit, upon 
the left hand. Then, bending over the afflicted one, he or 
she mutters, wails and gesticulates in the strangest manner, 


occupatio:ns op the Eskimos 

also blowing with the mouth and motioning the departure of 
the evil spirit. This kind of audible supplication is often 
carried on for a considerable length of time. 

The Eskimos, like almost every other people under the 
sun, possess some form of worship, and believe in a spirit 
world. They believe in the existence somewhere of good and 
evil spirits which govern and control this world. The Great 
Good Spirit (Cood-Ia-pom-e-o), they believe, dwells in an 
upper world, of which the sky is the floor ; but the evil spirits, 
governed by their chief, " Tornarsuk," dwell in a world 
beneath ours, which forms a kind of great roof over the world 
below. The earth and this under-world are connected with 
each other by certain mountain clefts, and by various 
entrances from the sea. The spirits of those who meet with 
violent death go to dwell with Oood-la-pom-e-o, in the upper 
world; but for those who die from other causes there is a 
place prepared below, in the land of plenty, with the evil 

These latter deities are supposed to have the greater power 
of the two upon earth, and consequently their favor is sought, 
and to them supplication is usually made, though over certain 
forces, events and circumstances the Great Good Spirit is 
supposed to have control. Eor example, he is believed to be 
the deity governing the frosts, so that in the fall of the year, 
when the ice is insufficiently strong for hunting purposes, his 
favor is invoked. 

Communication with the spirits is usually held through 
wizards, or " angokokes," who are looked upon as wise men 
by the people, and are appointed to fulfil this function. They 
are ordained for their sacred calling when youths, and as a 
distinguishing mark of their profession wear upon their 
backs a string of ornaments, mostly made of seal or deerskin. 
These are given them at the various places visited by them 
in recognition of their office. The angokokes are appointed 
because of their qualifications. There may be a number of 



them in the same community, but some rise to much greater 
distinction than others. 

These wizards are said to be taught from youth by one of 
the deputy chief friends, named " Tornat," and some of them 
are supposed to have great power with the spirits. 

At times, when the people are threatened with famine, or 
are in distress of any kind, the angokoke is requested to inter- 
cede for them. Supposing it is food that is wanted, he 
arranges for an interview with Tomarsuk, the chief of the 
devils. In order to do this, the angokoke, accompanied by 
one other man, goes down to the water's edge in the early 
morning at the hour of low tide. Here his companion binds 
him in a doubled-up position, so that his knees meet his face, 
and lashes him up with stout thongs so tightly that he is 
unable to move hand or foot. In this helpless condition his 
companion leaves him, with his walrus harpoon lying by his 
side and the rising waters lapping at his feet. What imme- 
diately follows only the angokoke knows, but I have been 
informed by the wizards themselves — and it is fully believed 
by the Eskimo people — that the devil comes to his rescue and 
releases him from his bonds, but at the same time seizes the 
harpoon found on the ground and thrusts it through his 
breast. The point projectirig through his coat behind, and 
blood trickling down in front, the excited wizard rushes up 
from the shore to the village, trailing behind him the harpoon 
line. He bursts into the first igloo in a frenzied condition, 
snorting and blowing like a walrus. As he enters all sharp 
tools are quickly put out of sight, so that the angokoke may 
not harm himself with theni, and at the same time water is 
sprinkled on his feet. This done, he bounds out of the igloo, 
and as he does so the occupants seize the harpoon line trailing 
behind, but are not able to hold him, for he is as strong as 
a walrus. 

The magician then enters the next igloo, where a like 
performance is repeated, and in the same manner the round 



of the village is made, but none is able to hold the excited 
man. Having completed the round of the dwellings in the 
village, he returns to the seashore, where it is said he is 
again met by Tornarsuk, who extracts the harpoon from his 
breast and assures him that the prayers of the people shall 
be heard, and that plenty of walruses shall be sent to satisfy 
their hunger. 

Whether or not Tomarsuk is as good as his word we can 
only conjecture, but the poor Eskimo pagans have great faith 
in the intercessory powers of their angokoke. 

Intercession is sometimes made to the Good Spirit, and as 
before, the angokoke acts as intercessor ; but instead of going 
to the shore, he is bound in an igloo and left there by his 
people. While still in this bound condition he is said to 
ascend through the roof of the igloo, and to meet and hold 
communication with Cood-la-pom-e-o, and having arranged 
matters with him he returns to earth, re-enters the igloo 
through the door, and reports the results of this interview. 

The following are some of the laws of the Eskimos: 

" 1. ITo man shall after sunset do any work requiring the 
use of tools. The women may sew, make garments, or chew 
boots. (Thus the hours of each day after sunset form the 
Eskimo's Sabbath.) 

" 2. IsTo person shall eat walrus and deer meat on the same 

" 3. The carcases of all large animals slain during the 
winter season shall be equally divided among all members of 
the community. 

" 4. All kinds of rare game are common property during 
all seasons. 

" 5. Any person finding drift-wood secures ownership by 
placing stones upon it. 

" 6. Any other kind of goods found remains the property 
of the original owner. 

" 7. When a seal is harpooned and gets off with the har- 



poon, the first harpooner loses all claim to it when the float 
becomes detached. 

" 8. If two hunters strike a bird at the same time, it shall 
be equally divided between them. 

" 9. Whoever is first to see a bear has first ovynership, no 
matter who slays it. 

" 10. After slaying a bear, the man who kills it shall hang 
up his hunting implements, together with the bladder of the 
beast, in some high, conspicuous place, for at least three days, 
and for four days* shall be separated from his wife. 

" 11. When a walrus is slain, the successful hunter shall 
be separated from his wife for at least one day. 

" 12. The borrower of tools shall not be bound to give 
compensation for damages. 

" 13. No person shall ' muckchucto ' (sew) while any 
member of the family is ill. 

" 14. If any man for any cause whatsoever slays his 
neighbor, the wife and family of the deceased shall become 
the famUy of the slayer, and shall be taken care of by him 
as if they were his own." 

One Eskimo legend regarding the origin of the people has 
already been related. Another of special interest, regarding 
the occurrence of a flood, runs something like this: A very 
long time ago there was a great rain, which was so terrible 
that it flooded the earth and destroyed all people, with the 
exception of a few Eskimos, who constructed a raft by lashing 
together a number of kyacks and took refuge upon it. Upon 
this raft they drifted for a long time, until they were much 
reduced by cold and starvation. Then at length, in their dis- 
tress, their angokoke stood up and cast his harpoon and all 
their ornaments into the flood of waters. This act sufficed 
to appease the angry spirits, and the flood subsided. 

This legend is particularly interesting since it adds one to 
the large number of similar legends belonging to other savage 
tribes and nations. 



Another romantic Eskimo legend explains the origin of the 
sun and moon. 

As a rule, the aged and feeble members of the Eskimo com- 
munity are treated with respect and kindness, but during 
times of distress and famine they are often forgotten in the 
general struggle for existence. For instance, when the supply 
of food at any particular place becomes exhausted, and 
through starvation the people are forced to go elsewhere in 
search of the necessaries of life, the aged or feeble, or those 
who have become too weak to travel, are left behind to 
perish. If, however, food is soon found, a portion is at once 
taken back ; and after all, what more could be done, even by 
white people? 

When an Eskimo dies at home in the igloo, his body is 
never taken away for burial by carrying it out through the 
doorway, but an opening must be made in the rear for its 
removal. The place chosen for the burial of the (Jead is some 
almost isolated point of land, a hill-top difficult of access, or 
some remote island where there is the least danger of the 
bodies being disturbed by wild beasts. 

The dead are first wrapped in their skin robes, then laid 
to rest and covered over with piles of stones. 

At times these graves are made very large, while in other 
cases the bodies are barely covered over. Usually some kind 
of a memorial is raised over the grave: frequently a long 
stone, but more often a topick pole or paddle, to the top of 
which a flag or streamer is fixed to mark the last lonely rest- 
ing-place of the departed. 

Beside the lonely grave are placed the hunting implements 
of its occupant, and there, upon the dreary waste, imprisoned 
in his rocky tomb beneath the snows of many a winter storm, 
the poor Eskimo lies awaiting the sound of the last trumpet. 

11 161 


Bakee Lake^ about seventy miles in length and perhaps 
half that in breadth, was originally discovered and rudely 
mapped by one Captain Christopher, about the year 1Y70. 
In searching for the !N"orth-West Passage he sailed into it 
v^ith two small vessels from Hudson Bay, passing en route 
through Chesterfield Inlet and the two rivers flowiiig into it 
from Baker Lake. Having with us a copy of Captain Chris- 
topher's map, though of a very sketchy character, it afforded 
us some information as to our future course. 

Since leaving the shores of Black Lake we had traversed 
to this point a distance of just eight hundred and ten miles, 
through an entirely unknown country. We had occupied 
more time in doing so than we had expected, on account of 
the extraordinary character of the weather; however, on the 
evening of the 2nd of September we found ourselves at the 
mouth of " the great river flowing to the northward," as 
described by the Black Lake Indians. 

From our astronomical observations and survey it was 
found that* the extremity of the lake as determined by Chris- 
topher, and as located on the existing maps of Canada, was 
nine miles too far south and about fifty miles too far west. 
At the mouth of the river the water was found to be shallow — 
in some places not more than three or four feet in depth — 
and for some distance out into the lake shoals were observed. 
Small sailing vessels or York boats would have no difficulty 
in getting in, but it would be difficult to take the former 
any great distance up the river on account of the rapids. 



Large, properly constructed river boats might be taken up 
stream without difficulty for a distance of 150 miles to the 
confluence of the west branch, and how far they might be 
able to ascend that large stream it is impossible for me to 
say.* "With the exception of perhaps one spot — the canyon 
rapid north of Dubawnt Lake — I believe the whole river from 
the Height of Land to Baker Lake might be navigated by 
river or York boats with comparative ease. At the rapid a 
portage would have to be made. 

I think it important to mention the above possibilities of 
access to this country, on account of the fact that from 
Dubawnt Lake to Baker Lake there stretches an extended area 
of promising mineral-bearing Huronian schists and trappean 
rocks, a series very similar to the silver, copper and gold 
bearing rocks of the north shore of Lake Superior and Lake 
of the Woods districts. The time must come — it may not be 
far distant — when the prospector and the miner will occupy 
all this vast field of mineral wealth.f 

From the head of Baker Lake we were now to commence 
a new stage of the journey. The rough maps in our posses- 
sion enabled us to form a fair idea of our prospective route. 
From our camp to the mouth of Chesterfield Inlet, on the 
coast of Hudson Bay, measured about 250 miles, and thence 
down the coast of the bay to Fort Churchill, a Hudson's Bay 
Company's post and the nearest habitation of white men, 
measured 500 more ; so that Y50 miles was the least distance 
we had to figure on travelling before the close of navigation. 

It was now the month of September, and as winter is 
known to set in very early in the Hudson Bay district, my 

♦For full geological and mineralogical details regarding this dis- 
trict, see J. B. Tyrrell's report for 1893, published by the Geological 
Survey Department of Canada. 

f I have discovered through later exploration that this west branch, 
now named the Thelon River, is free from obstructions for a dis- 
tance of 224 miles, making in all an unbroken stretch of river 
navigation of 374 miles. 



brother and I felt that our time must be employed to the 
very best advantage. The weather had been extremely ad- 
verse all summer, but it was now liable to be more so. Within 
the course of two or three weeks the equinoctial gales might 
be expected. The tides also would be a new feature of 

In consideration of these prospects, and in order to stimu- 
late the men to greater exertion, it was thought best to explain 
our position to them, for up to this time they had little idea 
as to where they were, whether in the vicinity of the North 
Pole or within a few days' travel of civilization. The effect 
produced by thus informing the canoemen was as desired. 
They resolved to make longer days and put forth greater 

Before daylight on the morning of the 3rd, camp was 
aroused by the sound of many voices, and a few minutes 
later, before we had turned out from our blankets, the door 
of the tent was pulled half open, and two or three black, burly 
heads, with grinning faces, were poked in. They were those 
of some of our friends from the Eskimo village who had come 
over to pay us an early morning call before we should finally 
leave their shores. They all held in their hands nicknacks 
of one kind or another which they were anxious to trade, 
chiefly for needles, and some would have come in and made 
themselves at home had we not dismissed them until we were 
dressed and ready to do business at a little greater distance 
from our blankets, which we were desirous should be in- 
habited only by ourselves. Later, a few fishing-lines, spoons 
and such trifles were purchased." 

As soon as possible, the wind happily being fair, our canoes 
were loaded, and with many " tabowetings " (good-byes) to 
the natives and a hurrah for Baker Lake, we started out to 
the eastward along the north shore. But soon the wind grew 
strong and caused such a high sea to run that we were forced 
to seek shelter, which we found in the mouth of a small 



river. We had then made fouBteen miles. Here we waited, 
hoping that toward evening the wind might moderate ; but on 
the contrary it grew worse, so on the lee side of a bluff point 
camp was pitched to afford us shelter from the cold, piercing 
blast. A high wind continued all night and during the fol- 
lowing day, when it was accompanied by snow and sleet. 
The temperature was so low that the fresh-water ponds were 
now frozen over. Such a condition of climate, together with 
a small and rapidly diminishing stock of provisions, made us 
chafe at the delay; but on the morning of the 5th we were 
enabled to launch, and during the day made a good run of 
about forty miles. The shore of the lake consisted chiefly of 
Laurentian rock, from 150 to 300 feet in height, but at some 
places broad, low flats and long points of sand and boulders 
separated the hills from the water. 

During the afternoon of the 6th, the northerly of the two 
rivers discharging the waters of Baker Lake was discovered. 
The approach to it is well marked on the north bank by a 
round bluff some two hundred feet in height. At first no 
current could be observed in the river, which, in reality, is 
a deep, narrow fiord, but when we had advanced a distance 
of about two miles a stiff current, almost approaching a rapid, 
was met ; but instead of moving with us, as would naturally 
be expected, it was flowing to the westward. At first sight 
it caused some doubts as to whether we were on the right 
road. The canoemen were all persuaded that we were ascend- 
ing some big river and would have turned back at once, but 
concluding that we had already reached tide water, though 
sooner than we had expected, we pulled on, and before long 
witnessed the seemingly strange phenomenon of a river 
changing its direction of flow. 

So smooth and bare were its glaciated shores that we had 
some difficulty in effecting a landing. One night was spent 
on this rocky bank, and the day following, being fair and 
bright, saw us on the waters of Chesterfield Inlet. The mag- 



netic compasses were now found to work very unsatisfactorily, 
but for one day the sunlight enabled me to make liberal use 
of my solar instrument. During the next and several suc- 
ceeding days the weather was dark and gloomy, and we 
encountered such tide rips in the inlet that my survey was 
much interfered with. 

On the 10th of September, as we were pulling down the 
inlet Tinder a strong side wind, through extremely rough 
water, we were glad to find about noon a sheltered cove on 
the north side of a large island near the south shore. Here 
we landed to await an improvement in the weather. While 
the cooks were preparing our mid-day meal, my brother and 
I set out for the summit of the island, a mile or more to the 
south, for the purpose of taking observations. In due time 
the breezy elevation was reached. While sighting to a 
prominent point to the southward, there suddenly appeared 
from behind it what seemed a phantom ship. For a moment 
I gazed upon it in amazement, but then realizing that the 
appearance was a real, not an imaginary one, I called my 
brother's attention to it. 

The object, which was several miles distant, was clearly 
made out to be a two-masted sailboat, and it was heading to 
the westward. By whom could it be manned ? We could not 
imagine, but there it was, with two square sails set to the 
wind, and tearing up the inlet. By the aid of our field- 
glasses we could make out many moving figures on the 
boat, but as to whether they were whalers, Hudson's Bay 
Company's traders from Churchill, or who else, we could not 
conceive. If, however, they were to be more to us than a 
vision it was necessary to bestir ourselves, for they were 
rapidly passing. From my pocket I drew an immense red 
handkerchief and waved it most energetically, while my 
brother discharged several shots from his revolver. We soon 
saw from the boat's movements that we were observed, but 
instead of coming in towards us they only bore away more to 



the southward. Still I vigorously waved the red handker- 
chief, and finally, much to our delight, the sails flapped 
loosely in the wind, then in a moment were refilled by the 
strong breeze and the boat swept in toward us. 

The appearance of a sailboat in Chesterfield Inlet, and 
especially at this late season of the year, puzzled us much, 
and as it drew nearer we watched it intently. It had the 
appearance of being a large whale-boat, and was evidently 
well manned, but by whom we could not tell. Whoever they 
might be, perhaps they could be hired to take us dovsm the 
coast of the bay to Churchill, and if so we might be saved 
weeks of hard travel on a very exposed and dangerous coast. 
We sincerely hoped that the strange mariners, or at least 
their boat, might be available for the voyage. When they 
had approached suiSciently near we could see that there were 
Eskimos on board, and a moment later their anchor was cast 
out, and several of them, making a sort of raft out of three 
kyacks they had in tow, paddled in to the rocky shore where 
we stood. In vain did we look for the face of a white man. 
They were aU natives, and as we gazed at each other in 
mutual amazement, I broke the silence with the question, 
" Kudloonah petehungetoo?" (Is there no white man?) 
" Petehungetoo" (There is none), was Ihe reply, so the 
whole party, which consisted of several families, men, women 
and children, were Eskimos, and with them in their boat they 
had their dogs and other necessary hunting and camping 
equipments. They informed us they were moving up into the 
interior from the coast to spend the winter, so it was not 
surprising that nothing we could offer would induce them to 
consider the question of taking us down to Churchill or of 
selling their boat to us. We offered what to them would have 
been fabulous wealth, but to no purpose. There they were 
with all their belongings on their way to the westward, and 
westward they were determined to go. 



The Eskimos in turn expressed surprise at finding two 
solitary white men upon such a lonely, barren island, and 
not unnaturally asked, " Nowtimee ibbee kyette?" (Where 
do you come from ?) I replied, " Uvagut kyette tellipea 
washigtooeloo townonee koog-du-ak " (We come from the west, 
very far, down a great river). We were then asked if we had 
seen any more of their people, and replied, " Uvagut tacko- 
namee hipunga Innuit coonetookeloo manee tacko Innuit 
amasuit washigtoo tellipea iglooanne attowsha sissell ungayo " 
(We have seen no other Eskimos near here, but saw plenty 
far to the westward beyond the first big lake). They in- 
formed us that another large boat-load of their people had 
gone up from the coast on the previous day, and were sur- 
prised that we had not seen them. Though we were not 
able to purchase or charter the boat from the natives, we 
obtained much valuable information and a sketch-map of the 
coast of the bay from the mouth of the inlet down to Fort 
Churchill. After a brief stay they returned to their boat, 
and we to the rocky hills, upon the other side of which our 
party awaited our return. The wind still continued to blow 
too strongly to admit of travelling by canoe, so we went back 
again and spent the rest of the day on the hills. 

ISText morning "we were up early. The wind had fallen 
somewhat and the canoes were soon launched. We managed 
to travel until after eleven o'clock, when, because of the high 
wind and rough water, we were again obliged to make for 
the shore, and in order to do so had to pull through a heavy 
surf, breaking over the low, sandy beach. During the after- 
noon at this point observations for longitude were obtained, 
and close by upon a prominent hill a large cairn of rocks was 
erected to mark the spot for the benefit of future explorers. 

The two following days were marked by rough weather 
and little progress, but finally we reached the mouth of the 
great inlet through which for several days we had been 



For having completed another stage of the journey we 
were exceedingly glad, but coupled with this fact there was 
another, viz., that before us was a five-hundred-mile voyage 
to be made in open canoes down an exposed sea-coast. Here 
we would be surrounded by entirely new conditions and con- 
fronted with new difficulties. 




Staeting southward down the coast of Hudson Bay on 
the 13th of September, with the weather beautifully calm, 
we made a capital run past a rocky coast, skirted by a suc- 
cession of shoals and reefs, and at night camped upon the 
shore about twelve miles north t>f Marble Island, whose snow- 
white hills of quartzite could be distinctly seen on the 

Marble Island — so called because of the resemblance its 
rounded, glaciated, rocky hills bear to white marble — is well 
known as a wintering station for New England whalers. Its 
geographical position was determined in 1885 and 1886 by 
Commander Gordon, of the Dominion Government Hudson 
Bay Expedition, of which the writer was a member, so we 
were glad to avail ourselves of the opportunity of connecting 
our survey with so well-fixed a landmark. 

We had been informed by the Eskimos that there were no 
whalers now at the island, and we satisfied ourselves of the 
truth of their report by the use of our long-range biuoculars. 
Had there been we would have endeavored to arrange with 
one of them to take us down to Churchill, but in their absence 
we could only stick to the canoes. Near camp, on the shore, 
we foimd part of the skeleton of an immense whale, but un- 
fortunately not the part that is of commercial value. This 
doubtless had been carried away by the Eskimos or by some 
whaling crew. 

During the following day the weather continued fair, and 



feeling that nature was favoring us, we made good use of 
our time. As we followed the coast in a south-westerly direc- 
tion, the outline of Marble Island could be seen against the 
southern sky; while to the north extended the bold, dark 
coast-line of rock, unbroken in appearance excepting where 
here and there lay great banks of snow. 

About noon we discovered, on landing, what must very 
recently have been a large Eskimo encampment. Several 
komi ticks (sleds) and other articles were found. The wreck 
of a large whale-boat lay on the shore, and several dogs were 
seen lurking about. This camping-place was the summer 
home of the Eskimos we had met sailing up Chesterfield 
Inlet, and from a sanitary point of view was no credit to 
them, for filth and putrefaction everywhere abounded. 

The rocks of this locality were of an interesting character, 
being dark green hornblendic schists of the Huronian for- 

Following these two days of exceptionally fair weather we 
enjoyed still another, and were permitted to traverse the 
mouth of Rankin Inlet, which would have required two or 
three days to coast had the weather been anything but calm. 
During these three days we had made a distance of just one 
hundred miles, which, upon such an exposed coast, we con- 
sidered good progress. 

Though we saw little game, we still had some dried meat 
left, and at this rate of travel two weeks would take us to 
Churchill. By carefully rationing ourselves we had meat 
enough to last for five or six days, and the balance of the 
time could, if necessary, be spent without provisions. 

On the night of the 15th, however, being camped upon a 
little sand island in the mouth of Corbet's Inlet, our hopes 
were blighted by the approach of a gale, and all the next day 
we lay imprisoned upon the sand-bar without any fresh water 
to drink. Toward evening the wind was accompanied by a 
chilling rain, which continued all night and the greater part 



of the next morning. On the following afternoon the wind 
suddenly fell, and though a heavy sea continued to roll in 
from the east, the waves ceased to break. 

Fearing to lose one hour when it was possible to travel, we 
launched our canoes upon the heaving bosom of the deep and 
started across the mouth of the inlet on an eight-mile traverse. 
As we passed out beyond the shelter of the island we found 
the seas running fearfully high, but so long as they did not 
break upon us we had little to fear, and this would not likely 
occur unless the wind should spring up again ; but when we 
were well out in the middle of the inlet that is just what did 
happen. The wind began to rise from exactly the opposite 
quarter, and speedily increased in force, whipping the crests 
off the waves in such a way as to make things appear any- 
thing but reassuring. Our situation was indeed perilous. 
Every effort was made to guide the canoes so as to brook 
least danger, but in spite of all we could do the seas dashed 
in upon us, and it looked as if we would never reach the shore. 

My brother and I laid down our paddles, and with tin 
kettles applied ourselves vigorously to bailing out the water, 
^lany times the great tumbling biUows seemed as if they 
would surely roll over us, but our light cedars, though some- 
times half -filled with water, were borne up on the crest of 
the waves. At length we neared the rocky shore toward which 
for several hours we had been struggling, but, to our dismay, 
only to find it skirted by a long line of rocks and shoals, 
upon which the full fury of the wild sea was breaking. What 
were we to do ? Without a harbor we would be dashed to 
pieces upon' the rocks — and it was impossible to retreat 
against the storm. On we were borne by the force of the 
gale, but, thanks to a kind Providence, just as the crisis 
appeared to have come, a way of escape was discerned. One 
rock could be seen standing out in advance of the others, 
and behind this we managed with a supreme effort to guide 
the canoes. Then in shallow water, with the force of the 



seas broken, we all sprang out, and with great exertion suc- 
ceeded in landing the boats in safety. 

The country here was entirely barren and rocky, compara- 
tively level, and of a most dreary aspect, without a sign of 
vegetation. The storm continued for two days longer, during 
which time we were obliged to remain on shore. As our pro- 
visions were now about exhausted, attention was chiefly de- 
voted to hunting, but all that could be found was a small duck 
and two gulls. The broken remains of an Eskimo kyack 
were found upon the shore, and these were carefully gathered 
up so that a kettle of water might be boiled and our gulls 
cooked for supper. 

On the morning of the 20th, the wind having fallen, camp 
was called at four o'clock and without breakfast our journey 
resumed. Later in the day each man had a small piece of 
dried meat, quite insufficient to satisfy his. appetite; but, 
hungry though we were, the motto plainly written on every 
man's face was, " Speed the paddle." Thus we pressed on 
for two days, making good progress ; but having scarcely any- 
thing to eat, the work began to tell on us. 

On the 22nd we were again storm-bound by a heavy gale, 
with snow, which lasted four days. During this time we 
suffered considerably from the violence of the storm as well 
as from want of food. As soon as it had abated sufficiently, 
which was not until the morning of the 25th, two of the men, 
Pierre and Louis, were sent out with the shot-guns to hunt 
for food, and with our rifles my brother and I set out for 
an all-day tramp into the interior. We found our camp was 
situated near the end of a long, narrow point, at the back of 
which was Neville Bay. The point consisted in places of 
extended fields of water-washed boulders, and in order to 
reach the mainland we had to cross these. The necessity of 
doing this, together with the fact that we were walking with 
weakened limbs into the teeth of a gale, made travelling 
extremely difficult. 



Shortly after we left camp, a hare jumped out from 
among the rocks, and coming within range, was perforated 
by a slug from my " Marlin." Not wishing to carry it all 
day, we left it with Pierre and Louis to be taken to camp. 
By three o'clock, after a long and laborious march, and secur- 
ing nothing but a solitary ptarmigan, my brother and I 
reached the foot of the bay, and there discovered the mouth 
of a large river which flowed into it. We would gladly have 
stayed some time in this vicinity, but as the day was already 
far spent, and we were pretty well used up, we dare not. 
Finding a little dry moss, we made a fire, roasted and ate 
the ptarmigan, and then started back to camp. In some 
places the fresh snow was deep and soft, and this added 
greatly to the fatigue of the tramp. But before we had pro- 
ceeded far we met with encouragement in the discovery of 
deer-tracks. They were a day or so old, for they were 
frozen, but they led away nearly in the direction of camp, so 
we eagerly followed them, and from every hill-top keenly 
scanned the country. 

The shades of evening were gathering, and we were tired 
and hungry. Nothing could we see of the deer, and fearing to 
lie out all night without blankets in the rough, cold weather, 
we pushed on towards camp as fast as our weary limbs would 
carry us. We were frequently obliged to sit down and rest, 
and consequently, while still several miles from camp, we 
found ourselves enveloped in darkness and groping our way 
laboriously through a field of boulders. For a considerable 
distance we had to feel the way with hands and feet between 
and over the rocks. After about two hours of this sort of 
experience, we gained the more level country, and shortly 
afterwards, guided by the light of a candle in one of the 
tents, we reached camp tjioroughly used up. We were not, 
however, obliged to go to bed hungry, for Pierre and Louis, 
having been more successful than ourselves, had secured 
several ptarmigan and rabbits. From these a bouillon had 



been ijrepared, and part of it saved for our supper. It was 
a most thoroughly appreciated meal, and after partaking of 
it we were soon rolled up in our blankets, all unconscious of 
the storm that howled without or of the fact that we had not 
another meal in camp. On the morning of the 26th we were 
glad to find that the wind had fallen sufficiently to allow us 
to launch. Without delay the canoes were loaded and a fair 
run made. Several sea-ducks were shot during the day, and 
thus supper was secured. 

The next day, again storm-bound by a gale from the south- 
west, the whole party started out to hunt for food. We were 
not altogether unsuccessful, assembling in the evening with 
five marmots (little animals about the size of squirrels). 

The following morning, though a strong breeze was blow- 
ing, we determined to make a start, for to remain where we 
were meant that we must soon starve to death. We were 
already much reduced and weakened from the effects of 
cold and hunger, and the condition of the weather had of late 
been most disheartening. Churchill, the nearest habitation 
of man, was still fully three hundred miles distant. We had 
not one bite of food. The country was covered with snow, 
the weather piercingly cold. No fuel was to be had, and, 
worst of all, the weather was such, the greater part of the 
time, that we were unable to travel. It was difficult to be 
cheerful under such circumstances, but we kept up courage 
and pushed on. 

While we were bending to our paddles, after making per- 
haps seven or eight miles south-westerly along the coast, a 
band of deer was seen upon the shore. Our course was 
quickly altered and a landing effected, though with some 
difficulty, as the tide was falling and the water rapidly 
receding. The men were left to keep the canoes afloat while 
my brother and I, with our rifles, went in pursuit of the 
deer, which were at this time much more difficult to hunt 
than earlier in the season, when they run in great herds. 



The country here was a vast and dreary plain, affording no 
cover for the hunter save that of a few scattered boulders. 
Concealed by some of these, we crept for long distances, but 
finding it impossible to get within any kind of medium 
range, we opened fire at a distance of four or five hundred 
yards. At first the deer trotted about in confusion, but soon 
locating their enemies, they fled straight away across the 
plains. For several hours we followed, vainly seeking for 
opportunity of nearer approach, but being unsuccessful, 
retraced our weary steps to the shore, where we arrived faint 
and exhausted. We found the men had been unable to keep 
the canoes afloat because of the ebbing tide. They were now 
high and dry, and the water of the bay barely visible in the 
distance — such was the extremely low and flat character of 
the coast. 




As IT was impossible to launch until the return of the tide, 
Pierre and Louis were given our rifles and sent off to try 
their fortunes. As they departed, leaving us lying in the 
shelter of a rock, we sincerely wished them success. We had 
done our utmost and had failed; if .they also should fail it 
was too apparent what must soon be the result. Two of the 
other men were sent off with shot-guns. Then anxious hours 
of waiting followed. ISTo shots were heard, but towards 
evening Pierre and Louis, and afterwards the other men, 
could be seen returning in the distance. None of them 
appeared to be bringing any game, so far as we could 
see, and at the sight, I confess, my heart grew sick. As 
they came nearer, however, Louis, holding up something in 
his hand, exclaimed, " I got him !" It was the claw of a polar 
bear, and we soon learned with joy that, sure enough, he had 
killed a bear, which he had unexpectedly come upon at the 
edge of a lake while following the deer. 

The encounter had taken place about six miles inland, and 
Louis was alone at the time, his brother having gone off on 
a diverging track. The meeting was a mutual surprise, for 
the bear, which was lying on the snow near the ice, being 
very white himself, was unobserved until the hunter's 
approaching footsteps aroused him. There was then a dis- 
tance of not more than fifty yards between them, and no time 
for consideration. 

The bear, springing to his feet, made straight for Louis, 
who met his charge with a slug and brought him to his knees. 
12 177 


He was up in an instant, though, and followed the Indian, 
who had taken to the ice, thinking that in a conflict he would 
there have the advantage. But in this he found he was mis- 
taken. The hear was quickly overtaking him, being at home 
on the ice, so he turned and with a second shot again knocked 
the animal down. 

As Louis made for the shore the bear regained his feet, and 
with blood streaming from his wounds, and a roar of fury, 
made one more desperate charge. He was now within a few 
feet of Louis. The intrepid hunter, realizing his situation 
as critical, turned quickly and by a well-aimed shot laid his 
savage pursuer dead at his feet. 

It was a most fortunate shot for our whole party, as well 
as for the Indian, who, being unable to handle the carcase 
himself, had returned for assistance, meeting his brother by 
the way. We all gladly followed him to the scene of the 
combat, where, judging from the tracks and blood, there was 
abundant proof of the veracity of his story. 

On a hill near the carcase some dry moss was discovered, 
and with this, even before the skinning had been completed, 
some of the flesh was toasted and greedily devoured. The 
reviving effect produced upon the spirits of our party was 
marked. Though the flesh of the polar bear is famed for its 
rankness, we would not have exchanged it at that time for 
its weight in silver. 

I The carcase was found to be extremely poor, the only food 
found in the stomach being the droppings of reindeer. At 
the first meeting, therefore, Louis must have been considered 
a very desirable prize. It was merely a question of which 
should eat up the other iu order to prolong existence. 
Fortunately for our party the Indian proved to be the fittest 
survivor. No part of the carcase was wasted, but every 
scrap, amounting to between three and four hundred pounds, 
including the hide, was placed in. bags, and carried to the 
canoes, which we reached with much diflBculty long after dark. 



Next morning a strong east wind, driving a wild surf in 
upon the shore, made it impossible to launch, but we were 
thankful during the delay to have a supply of meat on hand 
with which to satisfy the cravings of hunger. Advantage 
was also taken of the opportunity afforded for obtaining moss. 
Though five or six miles distant, a quantity of this fuel was 
gathered, and several large kettles of meat boiled — almost 
sufficient, it was hoped, to take us to Churchill. But alas 
for our hopes ! The gale which had arisen increased in fury 
until it became a terrific storm, accompanied by sleet and 
snow, and this continued for five long days. 

One night the tent occupied by my brother and I was 
ripped up the back by the force of the gale, and with diffi- 
culty kept from being carried away. So piercingly cold was 
the wind that without shelter we must soon have perished. 
We were already numb with cold, but in the midst of snow 
and darkness I managed to find in my bag a sail needle and 
some twine, and then having lowered the tent to the ground, 
while my brother held it, I stitched up the rent. When the 
tent was again raised, our bedding was buried in snow, but 
the blankets being our only comfort, the drifts were shaken 
off, and in a half-perished condition we again crept beneath 

Besides the discomforts occasioned by the storm at this 
camp, I suffered a serious experience of poisoning. Our cook, 
thinking to give my brother and myself a treat, provided for 
our dinner a dish of fried liver. Perhaps because of its rank 
flavor, my brother partook sparingly and so partially escaped, 
but I ate of it freely and at once became fearfully ill. For 
a whole day I lay in the tent, retching and straining, though 
throwing off nothing but froth, until I thought I should have 
died. My brother urged me to take some brandy, a little of 
which still remained in a flask we had brought with us, but 
for some time I declined. Towards evening, however, find- 
ing that I would have to take something or give up the ghost, 
I yielded to his advice, and soon began to recover. I have 



since learned that polar bear's liver is considered to be 
poisonous, both by the Eskimos and bj the north-sea -whalers. 

Peevious Beae HrxT. 

While on the subject of bears, it may be of interest to re- 
late here a rather exciting personal experience I once had, 
which took place several years before, on the barren, ice- 
bound shores of Hudson Straits. 

We were a small detachment of explorers, travelling at the 
time in the little steam launch of a scientific expedition, and 
occupied in the geographical determination of a group of 
hitherto unknown islands. The personnel of our party, with- 
out giving full names, was as follows : The Doctor, who occu- 
pied a position in the stern of the boat and acted as steers- 
man; Mac, who, contrary to orders, had smuggled a small 
rifle on board and come with us for sport ; Con., an able sea- 
man from Newfoundland, and myself. 

The reason for orders having been given by our commander 
to take no rifles with us was, doubtless, that we might not 
allow sport to interfere with the object of our commission. 
Besides Mac's single-shot rifle, I had in my belt a 38-calibre 
S. & W. revolver, and these two, with a knife and an axe, 
constituted our defence; but no special thought was given 
to these things as at six o'clock on that summer morning, 
in the shadow of the Arctics, our little expedition steamed 
away on its mission, following and mapping the various 
points and bays of the rocky shore, and giving all attention 
to our work as we ploughed through the cold, blue waters. 

Before we had proceeded many miles it became necessary 
to go ashore in order to obtain fresh water for the boiler of 
the launch. Accordingly, observing what appeared to be a 
little cascade falling over broken cliffs into the sea, our course 
was shaped towards it; but before we could gain the shore 
our purpose was for the time forgotten, because of the sudden 
appearance, only a few yards ahead, of two polar bears — a 
large one and her cub — swimming ia the water. 



Mac. and I quickly took up position in the bow and 
opened hostilities, but on account of the roughness of the 
sea and the tossing of the boat, the shots were ineffective, and 
so far as the old bear was concerned, an opportunity was not 
afforded for repeating them. Quick as a flash she disap- 
peared, leaving her fleecy cub' paddling about on the surface. 
Though the engine of our boat had been stopped, the 
momentum carried us on rapidly past the little swimmer, 
which was about the size of a half-grown sheep. As we 
passed, Con. seized master bruin and endeavored to land him 
on board, but in this he, perhaps fortunately, failed, and was 
prevented from pursuing his ambition by the sudden appear- 
ance from the deep of the enraged mother, who, with a roar, 
made a plunge for the stern of the boat, where the Doctor was 
seated, and seized the gunwale in what were afterwards 
described as her " devilish-looking jaws." 

To say that this sudden turn of events was a surprise to 
lis all but feebly describes the expressions depicted upon the 
faces of our party. With the other occupants and the en- 
gines between us and the bear, Mac. and I were unable to 
shoot, but Con. came to the rescue, and with several desperate 
thrusts of the iron-pointed gaff he persuaded the bear to re- 
lease her hold, when with the engine again running, a separa- 
tion was effected, but not before we had learned an inter- 
esting lesson regarding the habits of the polar bear. 

As a matter of discretion, the boat was now kept at a safe 
distance from the bears. Several shots were fired, one or two 
slight wounds being inflicted on the mother, but as fast as the 
little one could travel, though no faster, they maintained a 
steady course for the nearest point of land. Apparently 
nothing would induce the mother bear to forsake her little 
one, and though wounded herself, her whole anxiety seemed 
to be for her offspring. Sometimes she would swim a short 
distance in advance, but only to return in a moment, as if 
to urge on the little creature to greater exertion. 



The shore was soon gained by the swimmers, who then beat 
a rapid retreat up the rocky cliffs and disappeared among the 
distant hills. As they fled, the exhibition of motherly affec- 
tion shown by the old bear was very remarkable and pleasing. 
She would never allow the cub to be separated more than a 
few feet from her, and would govern her own pace to suit 
that of her " bairn." 

As the bears made good their escape, self-reproach and 
disappointment mingled in our souls, and more than one em- 
phasized denunciation was heaped upon our commander's 
head because we had been prevented from having our rifles 
with us. 

After a few moments of bitter reflection as to what " might 
have been," our thoughts reverted to surveying and the 
obtaining of fresh water, but before thought could be followed 
by action, strange to say, two other large bears were sighted 
ahead. They were near the shore, and not very far from the 
foot of the falls for which we had been steering. 

A brief consultation was held, and it was decided to ad- 
vance cautiously upon them. Mac, with his rifle and but a 
half-dozen remaining cartridges, again took his position in 
the bow of the boat; but, prompted by recent experience, I 
remained at the stern vdth my revolver, while Con. stood 
amidships armed with the gaff. The bears, observing us, 
landed upon a high point of broken cliffs close by, and as they 
did so, Mac. gave them a couple of slugs, which evidently 
took effect, but caused them no particular inconvenience. A 
moment later they were lost to sight among the rocks. 
Resolved upon preventing their escape if we possibly could, 
Mac. and Con. — ^the latter armed with the axe — ^were allowed 
to go ashore and head off the retreat, while we in the boat 
skirted along the shore where the bears might be most likely 
to take to the water. Our landing party had no sooner 
reached the summit of the first ridge of rock than " bang !" 
went Mac's rifle, and a moment later, as he crammed in 
another cartridge, there appeared over the ridge, not more 










than five yards from his feet, the blood-bespattered heads of 
the two furies. 

It was a critical moment for our two sportsmen, and one 
of breathless suspense- for those of us who looked on. Con. 
stood with uplifted axe ready to strike as Mac, again level- 
ling, fired into the face of the foremost bear, now almost at 
his feet, and sent a slug boring through his head. By ordinary 
bears this would have been received as sufiicient intimation 
to drop dead, but it seemed only to " rattle " this polar, sO 
that, instead of proceeding to demolish Mae. and Con., he 
plunged over the steep cliff into the sea and there terminated 
his career. 

The other bear, seeing the fate of his comrade, retreated 
and took to the water, and as he did so, leaving a trail of 
blood upon the rocks, Mac. sent his last slug after him. He 
and Con. then, descending to the shore, came on board, and 
with us gave chase to the wounded animal, who was swim- 
ming off at a rapid pace. Our launch, however, soon over- 
took him, and as we passed I gave him a volley from my 
revolver, which appeared to have little more effect than to 
increase his rage. 

As I was about to fire again he disappeared, and a moment 
later reappeared at the side of the boat, threw one paw over 
the gunwale, and with open, blood-thirsty jaws made a lunge 
for my leg. Fortunately for me his reach was a little too 
short, and the result was he got the worst of . the scuffle. 
Putting my revolver up to the side of his head, I gave him 
the contents of the five chambers before he could retire. 
These shots, however, did not penetrate the skull, and beyond 
causing a withdrawal, only had the effect of further enraging 

Hostilities having been commenced at close quarters, we 
continued the fight until I had fired my last cartridge and 
bruin's scalp was riddled with lead. But the wounded fury 
still swam powerfully, and with ammunition now exhausted 
it appeared as if we would not be able to complete the task 



we had undertaken. For a short time we watched his move- 
ments, and observing that he seemed inclined to go ashore, 
we decided upon a new plan of action. Steaming away 
around the point, we beached the boat, and, armed with axe, 
ice-gaff and knife, we climbed the farther side of the cliff, 
and there concealed ourselves in such a position that we were 
able to watch the enemy's movements. 

We had not long to wait, for, thinking himself unobserved, 
he swam ashore at the foot of the bluff and hid among the 
broken rocks. Feeling that our opportunity had now arrived, 
we descended stealthily from ledge to ledge and from rock 
to rock, taking care that we should not be scented or observed. 
Step by step we drew nearer, until close to the foot of the 
cliff, and almost at our feet, we came upon the wounded 
bear. He was much out of humor, and sore enough from 
his many wounds, but before he had time to demonstrate 
his displeasure, Mac. had thrust the gaff through his skull. 
Con. had cleft his head with the axe, and my knife had 
spilled his heart's blood upon the rocks. 

In the animal world the polar bear is admittedly the 
monarch of the north. He is the bear of bears, being de- 
scribed by all Arctic travellers as possessing enormous 
strength and great voracity. Of the score of polars whose 
more or less intimate acquaintance I have hnd occasion to 
make, I have seen at least two whose tracks in the snow 
measured fifteen by eighteen inches, whose length measured 
over nine feet, and whose slain carcases tipped the steelyard 
at irom fifteen to sixteen hundred pounds. 

' Consequently I have always had great respect for the 
sentiments expressed in the following lines by an author 
whose name I regret being unable to recall : 

" Of the black bear you need not be afraid, 
But killing white ones Is a dangerous trade. 
In this be cool, and well direct your lead, 
And take your aim at either heart or head; 
For struck elsewhere, your piece not level'd tru". 
Not long you'll live your erring hand to rue." 



After the great five days' storm, which lasted until the 
4th of October, the whole country was buried in snow, and 
every possibility of finding even a little moss for fuel was 
excluded. Winter indeed had overtaken us. Ice was form- 
ing all along the shore of the bay, and it was evident that 
within a very few days travel by canoe must be at an end. 

On the above date, though light snow continued to fall, the 
wind had gone down sufficiently to admit of launching the 
canoes after a long portage out to meet the tide. In spite of 
the most vigorous exertion, all we were able to make during 
the day was ten miles, and that through a chilling spray 
which froze upon us and encased canoes and men in an armor 
of ice. We had great difficulty in getting ashore at night, 
having again to portage a long distance over the low-tide 
boulder flats. 

On the following morning the waters of the bay were out 
of sight, and it was not until about noon, when the tide flowed 
in, that we were able to float the canoes. Even then we were 
so obstructed by the new ice and a strong head-wind, that we 
were not able to make more than a mile or two before being 
again forced to struggle to the shore. At this rate we would 
be a long time in reaching Churchill. We had now been 
more than three weeks on the coast, and were still at least 
two hundred and fifty miles from our haven. 

Some different mode of travel must be adopted or we 
should never get in. The shore ice was fonning rapidly and 
might now block us at any time. We had not more than 



enough bear meat for another day or two, and the game had 
all left the country. What was to be done ? My brother and 
I talked the matter over during the night. The plan sug- 
gested itself of abandoning everything but rifles and blankets, 
and starting dovsru the shore on foot. But then, how could 
the numerous large rivers, which were still open, be crossed ? 
Again, to this plan there was the objection that having been 
in canoes all summer, our party, though still strong enough 
to paddle, was in very poor condition to walk. The only 
other feasible plan was then suggested. It was to abandon 
dunnage, instruments, rock collection, etc., everything except 
note-books, photographs, plant collection, rifles, blankets, and 
two small tents, and with these to start out in only two light 
canoes, and with the increased force in them to travel for 
our lives. 

This plan was decided on, and in the morning the men 
were set to work to cache aU our stuff excepting the articles 
above mentioned. This occupied the whole morning, and to 
us it was a sad and lonely task; but as it seemed to be the 
only way by which we might hope to escape from this dreary 
ice-bound coast, it was felt to be a necessary one. As secure 
a cache as we could build was made, and then with heavy 
hearts we turned our steps toward the shore. 

After launching the two canoes it was with great danger 
and difficulty we were able to force a way through the broken 
but heavy shore-ice to the open water beyond. Having once 
gotten clear, we were able to make good progress, and even 
at great risk of being smashed upon some of the many rocks, 
we paddled far into the night; but at a late hour, being 
sheathed in ice from the freezing spray, we landed, and, 
without supper, lay down to sleep upon the snow. 

Eight more dreary days passed, six of which were spent in 
battling with the elements and two in lying storm-bound in 
our tents. During this interval our party suffered much 
from cold and lack of food, and to make matters worse, dysen- 



tery attacked us, and it appeared as if one of our men would 

The ice had been all the while forming, rendering it more 
and more difficult to launch or get ashore. Our frail canoes 
were badly battered, and often were brokeu through by the 
ice; and the low character of the coast had not improved. 
Still with hollow cheeks and enfeebled strength we struggled 
on, som^etimes making fair progress and at others very little, 
until on October the 14th, as we advanced, the ice became 
so heavT, and extended so far out to sea, that in order to 
clear it we had to go quite out of sight of land. 

Towards evening we began to look about for some oppor- 
tunity of going ashore, but nothing could be seen before us 
but a vast field of ice, with occasional protruding boulders. 
We pushed on, hoping to find some bluff, point or channel of 
water by which we might reach the shore, but the appearance 
of things did not change in the slightest. We stood up in the 
canoes or climbed upon boulders, vainly hoping to at least 
get a glimpse of the land. Of course, we knew the direction 
in which the shore lay, but it was so low, and we were so far 
out, that it was beyond our view. 

Soon the shades of night began to fall about us, our canoes 
were leaking badly, and the weather was bitterly cold. 
Failing to reach the shore, we resolved to wait for high tide, 
about ten o'clock, hoping we might with it do better. The tide 
came, but left us still in the same condition, no more able to 
penetrate the ice or gain the shore than before. It had become 
intensely dark, and we were in great danger of being smashed 
on the ice or rocks. We were utterly helpless and could do 
nothing but remain where we were, or go where the tide 
chose to carry us, until the return of daylight. 

The hours of that night were the longest I have ever ex- 
perienced, and the odds seemed to be against our. surviving 
until morning; but at last the day returned and found us 
still alive. My brother was nearly frozen, having been 



obliged to sit or lie in icy water all night. Poor little Michel 
had both of his feet frozen, and the rest of ns were badly 
used up. Still we were in the same position as on the night 
before. We coiild not hold out much longer; we must gain 
the shore or perish. At the time of high tide, the ice being 
somewhat loosened, our canoes were thrust into the pack, and 
by great exertion, as well as much care, we succeeded about 
one o'clock in reaching solid ice, upon which we were able to 
land, and, for the last time, haul out our noble little crafts. 
We had been in them just thirty hours, battling with the 
ice, exposed to a chilling winter blast, our clothing saturated 
and frozen, and our bodies faint and numb with starvation 
and cold. But we were now within reach of the land, and 
all of us who were able gladly scrambled out upon the ice 
to stretch our cramped and stiffened limbs. My brother was 
in a perishing condition from the exposure of the night. He 
had been barely able to keep his canoe afloat by bailing, and 
had sat in the icy water for seventeen hours. I wrapped him 
up as warmly as I could and administered half a bottle of 
Jamaica ginger, the last of our stock. We then set about 
hauling the canoes over the ice to the shore, which we soon 
reached, and where we were so fortunate as to find drift-wood. 
A fire was quickly made, camp pitched, and better still, a 
meal prepared. On the previous day a seal, the only one 
secured on the trip, had been shot, and we were now in a 
position to appreciate it. The three western half-breeds were 
still fairly strong, but the remaining five of us were very 
weak and badly used up. We knew now, however, that we 
could be no great distance from Churchill, for we had again 
reached the wooded country, and two or three miles back 
from the shore could be seen dark clumps of spruce trees. 
This was a most consoling fact, for besides having meat for 
several days, we felt that we would have shelter and fire. 
As for launching our canoes again, that was entirely out 



of the question. If we would reacli Churchill at all it must 
be by land. 

As most of us were unable to walk, the only course open 
appeared to be to send on some of the stronger men to, if 
possible, reach the Fort and bring back a relief party. This 
plan was proposed, and two of the western men, Jim and 
John, volunteered to undertake the walk. We thought the 
distance could not be more than fifty miles, and it might be 
considerably less. On the morning of the 16th the two men 
set out on their journey, while those of us remaining pro- 
ceeded to move our tents back from the shore about two miles, 
to the nearest woods, where we might make ourselves more 
comfortable, to await the success or failure of the relief party. 
A sheltered spot was selected for camp, in a thick grove 
of spruce trees, and after clearing away about two feet of 
snow which covered the ground, tents were pitched, then well 
carpeted with spruce boughs, and a big camp-fire made. This 
was indeed a happy change from lying in canoes in the ice- 
pack. Clothing and blankets were now dried, and with the 
seal meat, and some ptarmigan which we shot in the grove, 
we were soon comparatively comfortable — with the exception, 
perhaps, of poor Michel, who suffered much from his frozen 

The reviving effect of the camp-fire upon our numb and 
half-frozen bodies was soon felt, though with the exception 
of Francois, the western half-breed, all of us at the camp 
were still very weak. Our veteran Pierre, who had done 
such good service with the paddle, now staggered in his 
walk, and as we were moving the tents from the shore back 
to the woods, he fell from sheer exhaustion and had difficulty 
in regaining his feet. Now in camp, however, and with meat 
enough to last us for a day or two, we were in a position to 
take a rest from our labors. Poor Michel's feet were in a 
had state, and having no proper means of treating them, we 
were anxious about them. His brother Louis was also in a 



wretched condition from the effects of severe dysentery, caused 
by exposure and starvation, and was unable to walk. 

On the morning of the iTth, feeling somewhat revived 
after a long night's rest, I undertook to go hunting ptarmigan, 
which we were glad to find were plentiful in the woods about 
us. Had it not been for the fact that our ammunition was 
almost exhausted, the occurrence of these birds in abundance 
would have afforded us greater consolation; but being, as we 
were, reduced to a dozen or two cartridges, the opportunity 
for living on feathered game seemed limited to a short period. 
Before I had walked a hundred yards from camp, I was 
forced to realize how weak I had become, and after making 
a circuit of about half a mile and shooting only two or three 
birds, I was scarcely able to crawl back to the tent. On my 
return, Frangois, taking the shot-gun, went out and returned 
in the evening with a fine bag of game. 

On waking the next morning, my brother amused us by 
relating an extraordinary dream, in which he imagined he 
was luxuriating in good things, and particularly sweet cur- 
rant cakes, for which he was exhibiting a wonderful capacity. 
But alas ! with the visions of the night the cakes had vanished, 
and for breakfast he was forced to be content with unseasoned 
boiled ptarmigan. 

At about one o'clock in the day, as we were seated within 
the tent partaking of our second meal, we were suddenly 
startled by hearing the exclamation, " Hullo, Jim !" The 
eagerness vsdth which we scrambled over dinner and dishes to 
the tent-door can better be imagined than described, and on 
looking out, sure enough there was Jim returning. Was he 
alone ? IN'o, thank the Lord ! Behind him, a moment later, 
emerged from the woods a number of men, followed by teams 
of dogs and sleds. One after the other thfere came scamper- 
ing along no less than four teams, hauling long, empty sleds 
capable of furnishing accommodation for our whole outfit. 
After a hard two days' tramp, .Jim and John had reached 



the Fort, where they found kind friends ready to send us 
prompt assistance. Dog teams had teen placed at their dis- 
posal, provisions supplied, and early on the morning of the 
same day on which they had found us, the train had set out 
for our relief. With light sleds they had travelled at a rapid 
pace over the thirty miles of snowy plains which separated 
us from Churchill. Another day of good travel in the canoes 
would have taken us in, had this been afforded us. 

As the relief party drew up at our camp, Jim advanced 
and handed letters to my brother and myself, expressing 
kind wishes and sympathy from Mr. and Mrs. Lofthouse, 
the Church of England missionary and his wife at the Fort, 
whose friendship I had the privilege of making on two former 
visits to Churchill. Along with the letters was handed a 
box, which when opened was found to contain the good 
things of my brother's dream, even to the sweet currant 
cakes. Staple provisions were also .produced, and it is 
scarcely necessary to say that they were joyfully welcomed. 
It would be impossible to describe our feelings upon this 
occasion, the termination of so many hardships and sufferings. 
During the afternoon preparations were made for the journey 
to the Fort on the following day. The canoes were hauled 
up from the shore, where we had been obliged to leave them, 
and loaded upon two of the dog-sleds. Camp outfit and pro- 
visions were loaded upon the others, and as far as possible 
everything was put in readiness for an early start in the 

A change in the weather was already forecast, the wind 
shifting around to the south, and towards evening it became 
decidedly milder. During the night a rain set in, and be- 
tween it and the warm wind a wonderful change was wrought 
before dawn. It began to look very much as if the fates 
were against us, and that now with the sleds and dog-teams 
we should have no snow to travel on. But before daylight 
camp was astir, and finding that enough yet remained, break- 



fast was partaken of by the light of the camp-fire and at the 
first streaks of dawn the journey on sleds to Churchill was 

Out of the woods there was comparatively little of the 
snow left. Under cover of the trees it was still deep, but too 
soft and heavy for the teams, so we kept along on the open 
plains between the woods and the shore, and made fair 

The arrangement of our party was as follows: As guide, 
an Indian named James Westasecot led the way some distance 
ahead of the train. Next after him came a team of six big 
Eskimo dogs, hitched two and two abreast to a long sled 
carrying the big canoe, in which Michel was given a passage. 
Following this team was another hauling the smaller canoe, 
in which I was rolled up in my blankets. The third team 
consisted of only four dogs and, in a carryall, hauled my 
brother and some of the baggage ; and at the rear of the train 
trotted another full team of six dogs with Louis, the sick 
Iroquois, and the camp outfit. The rest of our men walked 
behind or beside the various sleds, resting themselves by 
jumping on when the travelling was easy, as it often was 
when crossing level spaces or frozen ponds, of which latter 
there were very many. 

The day was beautifully bright and pleasant for one travel- 
ling as I was, but for the drivers and dogs it was much too 
warm for comfort. In many places the higher ground was 
bare, and progress consequently slow. 

About noon a halt was made for lunch, and during this 
time the opinion was expressed by the drivers that we would 
not be able to reach the Fort until the next day; but upon 
being promised that if they would take us in without having 
to spend another night in camp they should have whatever 
remained of the supplies they had brought us, they were 
induced to change their minds, and acting upon the new in- 
spiration we were soon again on our way. In many places 



the low, flat plains we traversed were overgrown by clumps 
of swamp willow, and around these many large flocks of 
ptarmigan were seen. About three o'clock in the afternoon 
we reached Grassy Island, at the foot of Button's Bay, 
and two hours later gained the base of a long range of rocky 
hills. "We skirted the foot of these for some time, until we 
reached a low place in the ridge, where, dismounting to 
lighten the loads, we turned up the steep pass, and after a 
short climb to the crest found ourselves within full view of 
Fort Churchill. It was not an imposing place, but even 
though consisting of only four or five old frame buildings, 
the sight to us was one of deep satisfaction. For a moment 
we paused on the summit of the ridge, then at the crack of 
the driver's whip the teams bounded forward, galloped down 
the steep slope, sped across the plains below, and in a few 
minutes landed us at the house of the Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany's trader. Here, after extricating ourselves from the 
various conveyances, we were presently received by a tall 
young Scotchman, who announced himself as ]\Ir. Matheson, 
Master of the Fort. 


13 193 


With our arrival at Eort Churchill we felt that the suc- 
cessful termination of our long journey was pretty well 
assured. Here there must be an abundance of provisions to 
feed our small party for an indefinite length of time, so that 
we could either spend the wruter at the post and go south 
by canoes in the spring, or else remain long enough to recruit 
our energies and continue the journey on snowshoes. 

Adjoining the Master's house, and ranged in two irregular, 
detached rows, near the rocky bank of the Churchill River, 
were the four or five old frame buildings of the Fort used 
as storehouses and servants' lodges. Two or three hundred 
yards down the shore was a neat little church and mission 
house. Drawn up on the beach near the church were several 
large, open coast-boats, used during the summer by the Hud- 
son's Bay Company iu carrying on trade with the Eskimos, 
and besides these was a small landing ^nd warehouse ; while 
down at the mouth of the river, five miles distant, could be 
seen the ruins of old Fort Prince of "Wales, once a massive 
cut-stone fortification. 

The buildings of the traders were verv old, some of them 
being iu a half-wrecked condition, but those of the mission 
were new and trim, having been only recently erected by the 
Rev. Joseph Lofthouse (now Bishop of Keewatin), who 
with his family occupied the dwelling. In this ideal little 
home, from the hour of our arrival at the Eort, we were 
given a most hearty and hospitable welcome. 

One of the first duties requiring attention, after arrang- 






ing for rations and shelter, was the treatment of poor 
Michel's frozen feet, which upon examination were found to 
be in a shocking condition. Fortunately, in a pocked; medi- 
cine-case the proper remedies for treating him were found, 
and with attention and care his condition from the first 
began to improve, though it was evident that at best it would 
be many weeks, if not months, before he would again be able 
to walk. 

Our situation and prospects of advancement were thor- 
oughly discussed with the trader, as well as at the mission, 
and it was resolved that we should proceed southward on 
foot as soon as the condition of the party (and that of the 
Churchill River, now running full of ice) would admit. 
We, therefore, lost no time in getting into training for the 
tramp, which would cover nearly one thousand miles. Daily 
walks were prescribed for all but Michel, and the stronger 
of the men were sent out to shoot ptarmigan, so that they 
might not only exercise their limbs, but, at the same time, 
supplement their daily rations, in which endeavors they 
were quite successful. 

As regards my brother and myself, our short constitu- 
tionals almost invariably ended at the Mission House, where 
many pleasant hours were spent with Mr. and Mrs. Loft-- 
house and their little daughter Marjorie. 

From the time of the establishment of the Churchill Mis- 
sion — ^the history of which would of itself form an interest- 
ing chapter — to the time of our visit, Mr. and Mrs. Loft- 
house had been devoting their lives to the noble work of 
teaching and helping the natives, both Indians and Eskimos, 
wherever they found them, and already the fruits of their 
labors were apparent. 

Close to their home stood a neat substantial church, 
capable of seating three himdred people, and every nail in 
the structure, which would be a credit to many a village in 
Ontario, was driven by the missionary's own hand. Part 



of the year, during the absence of the moving population of 
the district, such a seating capacity is unnecessarily great; 
but at other seasons, when the natives come in v^ith the pro- 
duce of the hunt, the little building is usually crowded. 

Mr. Lofthouse preached in the Cree, Chipewyan and 
Eskimo languages, and having won the esteem and affection 
of his people, he had a powerful influence over them, and 

Fort Chufchill, Hudion Bay. 

taught them with much success. He and !ilrs. Lofthouse 
together conducted a day-school for the benefit of the 
children of the permanent residents. These numbered 
twenty-one, the total population of Churchill being only 
fifty-one. On visiting the school I was much pleased with 
the advancement of the children, even the smallest of whom 



could read from the Bible. The girls were taught by Mrs. 
Lofthouse to do various kinds of needlework, and by way of 
encouragement were supplied with materials. 

At the trading station, besides Mr. Matheson, Captain 
Hawes and his family were staying at the time, he in an 
unofficial capacity. He was shortly to succeed Mr. Matheson, 
who was to be removed to some other post. Although not so 
well acquainted with the Captain as with Mr. and Mrs. 
Lofthouse, his face was also a familiar one to me, as we had 
met at Churchill in former years, when he was master of the 
Hudson's Bay Company's ship. Cam Owen, since wrecked 
on the coast. 

During the stay at Churchill every day brought noticeable 
improvement in the condition of our party. On several occa- 
sions, the weather being favorable, snowshoeing expeditions 
were formed. These were much enjoyed, though usually 
accompanied by great fatigue. Knowing, however, that by 
means of such travel we must return home in a short time, 
we realized the necessity of gaining strength for the long 

In the course of one of our outings we reached a place 
called Sloops Cove, about half way to Prince of Wales Fort, 
and there made some interesting observations. This cove 
owes its name to the fact that in the year 1741 the two sloops, 
Furnace and Discovery, sent out from England in command 
of Captain Middleton to search for the long-looked-for 
iN'orth-West Passage, spent the winter there. How two 
vessels could have been forced into this cove is a question 
which has given rise to much speculation on the part of Cana- 
dian scientists, for the cove does not now contain more than 
sufficient depth of water, at high tide, to float a small boat, 
and it is doubtful if even such a boat could get in through 
the rocky entrance. The historical fact remains, however, 
that this cove was the winter quarters of these two sloops, 
and as proof of the fact a number of ring-bolts to which the 



vessels were secured may still be seen leaded into the smooth 
glaciated granite. Besides the ring-bolts, many interesting 
carvings are to be seen cut on the surface of the smooth rocks. 
Amongst these are the following : " Furnace and Discovery, 
1Y41," "J. Horner, 1746," "J. Morley, 1748," "James 
Walker, May ye 25, 1753," " Guilford Long, May ye 27, 
1753," " J. Wood, 1757," " SI. Hearne, July ye 1, 1767." 
In addition to many other names are several picture carvings, 
and notably one of a man suspended from a gaUows, over 

i e H/^ Xei^e^ J ro-r^i ^ 

S^ Hearne 
I uiyi 

I nh' 


which is the inscription, " John Kelley from the Isle of 
Wight." According to local tradition Mr. Kelley was 
hanged for the theft of a salt goose. 

As yet during our stay at Churchill we had not been suc- 
cessful in reaching the ruins of old Fort Prince of Wales, 
but on the 3rd of JSTovember, the weather being oold and good 
for snowshoeing, we started off, and after an enjoyable five- 
mile tramp reached the memorable spot, now a scene of 
utter desolation. Ifot a tree or other sign of life could be 
seen on the long, low, snow-driven point of rock, but there in 



all its solitary, massive grandeur stood the remains of what 
had more than one hundred years ago been a noble fortress. 

The construction of this fortification, which appears to 
have been planned by the English engineer, Joseph Kobson, 
was commenced in the year 1743 by the Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany, which was then, as now, carrying on fur-trading busi- 
ness in northern Canada. So large and expensive a fortifica- 
tion was built, probably, not so much for the protection of the 
Company's interests as for the purpose of complying with a 
provision of its Eoyal Charter, which required that the 
country should be fortified. 

The building of the fort appears to have been carried on 
for many years under the direction of the famous Samuel 
Hearne, already referred to as having traversed the Barren 
Lands to the mouth of the Coppermine Eiver. In a stone 
barrack within the fort, Hearne lived and carried on busi- 
ness for many years. 

The fortress was in the form of a square, with sides three 
hundred and sixteen feet long; at the corners were bastions, 
and on top of the massive stone walls, twenty feet in height 
by thirty feet in thickness at the base, were mounted forty- 
two guns. "With such a defence one would suppose that 
Churchill should have been safe from attacking foes, but this 
does not seem to have been the case, for history informs us 
that on the 8th of August, 1782, the gallant La Perouse and 
his three vessels of war, with, it is said, naught but scurvy- 
smitten crews, made their appearance before the much- 
amazed garrison of thirty-nine men, and demanded an 
unconditional surrender, which was granted without resist- 
ance, and the gates of the great stone fort thrown open to the 
invaders. Taking possession, they spiked and diBmounted 
the gims, in places broke down the walls, burned the barracks, 
and sailed away to France with Hearne, his men, and all 
their valuable furs. 

As La Perouse left the fort so did we find it. For the 









^ ^ 


most part the walls were still solid, though from between 
their great blocks of granite the mortar was crumbling. The 
guns, spiked and dismounted, were still to be seen lying about 
on the ramparts and among the fallen masonry. In the 
bastions, all of which were still standing, were to be seen the 
remains of wells and magazines, and in the centre of the 
fort stood the walls of the old building in which Hearne and 
his men had lived. The charred ends of roof-beams were 
still attached to its walls, where, undecayed, they had rested 
for the past one hundred and eleven years. 

With a continuous low temperature, such as now existed 
at Churchill, the ice in the river, much to our satisfaction, 
began to set fast. This was necessary to enable us to con- 
tinue the journey. On Saturday, November 4th, the ther- 
mometer registered 14^/2 deg. below zero (Fahr.), and with 
that temperature the movement of floating ice ceased and the 
river was bridged from shore to shore. Being anxious to get 
away as early as possible, arrangements were made with the 
Company's agent for a start for York Factory on Monday 
morning. The assistance of one dog-team, with driver and 
guide, was with some difficulty secured, but three other 
teams were to accompany us a great part of the way, viz., to 
Stony River, where in the month of September the Com- 
pany's servants had been obliged to abandon a boatload of 
supplies because of severe weather, the month in which we 
had been canoeing on the coast 500 miles farther north. 

A bill of necessary supplies was prepared, and these were 
weighed out and put into sacks. Men and teams were sent 
off to obtain a supply of dog-meat — an indispensable com- 
modity — ^from a shanty on the south side of the river. When 
they reached the place they found it in possession of five polar 
bears — three large ones and two cubs. Along with the dog- 
meat were brought back the skins of one old bear and the two 
cubs. During Sunday the thermometer fell to 21 deg. below 
zero, making the river-ice strong and perfectly safe. 



On the morning of the 6th of November, after a stay of 
seventeen days at Fort Churchill, we were again ready to set 
out for the south. Our team consisted of six Eskimo dogs 
attached tandem fashion to a sled twelve feet long and a foot 
and a half wide. This sled was of the regular Eskimo type, 
the runners being formed of sticks hewn down to the dimen- 
sions of about two inches by six inches, and slightly curved 
up in front. 

Upon the sled was loaded about six hundred pounds of 
provisions, dog-meat, blankets and other dunnage, all seciirely 
lashed on within a canvas wrapper. The driver who had 
charge of the team was a tall young half-breed, named 
Arthur Omen. Our guide, whose name was Jimmie West- 
asecot, was a large fine-looking Cree Indian, of about middle 
age, who bore the distinction of being the most famous 
hunter and traveller in all that country. 

The party consisted of ten. My brother and I were 
warmly dressed in deerskin garbs of the Eskimo, while the 
rest of the party wore the white blanket suits of the traders, 
and with the exception of poor Michel, whose feet were still 
too sore to allow him to walk, each man was provided with a 
pair of snowshoes. As one dog-team was unable to draw aU 
the freight, the men were obliged to haul their own dmmage, 
and for this purpose three flat sleds or toboggans were pro- 
cured, and loaded with sixty or seventy pounds each. 

Thus provision was made for the transport of all neces- 
sary supplies, but what was to be done with Michel? Mr. 



(In the identical Eskimo suit worn by him on the tramp frotn Fort 
Churchill to Winnipeg.) 


Matheson kindly assisted us out of the difficulty by offering 
to take the crippled Indian on one of his sleds. Thus 
arrangements were completed, and, with nine days' pro- 
visions, we bade our kind friends farewell, and, early on the 
morning of the date mentioned, marched from the fort in 
single file, forming into a long serpentine train, winding our 
way to the southward across the broad frozen river. As we 
departed, farewell salutes were waved from the doorway of 
the little mission-house, and we felt that with them were 
wafted the most sincere and hearty good wishes. 

At the outset, though we had greatly improved physically 
during the stay at Churchill, we were still far from being 
strong, and it was thought best for a time not to attempt 
forced marches. The wisdom of this was clearly proven 
before the first day's tramp was ended. That afternoon one 
of my knees gave out, and soon became so badly crippled 
that every step caused me the most excruciating pain, and 
it was with the greatest effort I managed to hobble along 
after the train until evening. We travelled about twenty- 
one miles during the day, on an easterly course, across open 
plains and snow-covered lakes. There was little timber on 
the route until we reached the Eastern Woods, where it was 
decided to camp. Upon the open plains we found the snow 
hard and in good condition for travelling, so that the teams 
trotted along easily with their heavy loads. 

Snowshoe travel was also comparatively easy for those 
whose legs were sound, but the moment we entered the woods 
down sank shoes and dogs into the soft, light snow. In soft 
snow it is necessary for the guide or track-breaker to wear 
very large shoes, that he may not sink too deeply, but those 
who follow in his trail get along with the more ordinary size. 
The snowshoes used by Jimmie, the guide, were about five 
feet long and eighteen inches wide, whereas those used by the 
rest of us varied from three to three and a half feet in length 
and from ten to twelve inches in breadth. The guide's large 



shoes were made somewhat after the Montreal model, sym- 
metrical on either side, framed of one stick and slightly bent 
up at the toe, but those used by the rest were of very differ- 
ent make and more peculiar design. Though we purchased 
them from the Hudson's Bay Company at Churchill, they 
were made by the Chipewyan Indians. Their shoes are not 
made symmetrically, but are constructed with bulges upon 
their outer sides, and are formed of two pieces of wood, tied 
together at both ends and held apart in the middle by cross- 
bars, while the toes are turned up with a sharp curve. 

Having reached the shelter of the Eastern .Woods, and 
concluded the first day's march, a camping-place was chosen. 
The drivers of the teams at once proceeded to unharness the 
dogs, make beds for them of spruce boughs, and give them 
their daily meal of seal-blubber or fish. The other members 
of the party busied themselves in clearing away the sno«-, 
cutting dovm brush and firewood, and building the camp. 
This latter did not consist of a tent, shanty, or indeed cover- 
ing of any kind, but simply of a wall of brush built crescent- 
shape to a height of three or four feet, and in such a posi- 
tion as to best afford shelter from the cutting wind. The 
two main elements of a good winter camp-ground are shelter 
and dry wood, both of which are indispensable. 

The snow was cleared away from the inside of the wind- 
break, and in its stead spruce boughs were strewn to a depth 
of several inches, and in front of this a big fire kindled — 
and camp was complete. 

These tasks ended, the preparation of supper was com- 
menced. Baoon and biscuits were hauled out, while frying- 
pans and tea-kettles were brought and placed with their 
contents upon the fire. Fresh water had been found by cut- 
ting through the ice of a creek close by, so nothing was 

Tin plates and cups, knives and forks were provided, but 
as we took hold of them they froze to our fingers, and before 



we could use them they had to be heated. After supper pre- 
parations were made for the night and for the morrow's 
tramp. Socks, duifles and moccasins, wet with perspiration 
from the day's march, were hung up before the fire to dry; 
robes and blanliets were spread about the camp, and upon 
them our tired party assembled to enjoy a rest and smoke 
beside the fire before turning in for the night. Though cold, 
the night was beautifully calm and clear, and when from 
time to time the big dry sticks of wood were thrown upon the 
fire, showers of sparks ascended until they found hiding- 
places among the dark branches of the overhanging spruce 

Camp-fire stories and gossip were indulged in for an hour, 
then several logs were thrown upon the fire, and each man, 
rolled up in his blanket, and with feet toward the fire, lay 
do^vn to sleep. There was little sleep for me, however,' 
because of my knee, which gave me great pain during the 

The next morning camp was called at five o'clock, and 
under the still starlit sky all hands rolled out into the keen 
frosty morning air. At the first streak of dawn, after break- 
fast and other preliminaries, our march was resumed. 

It was yet dark in the woods, and to most of us there was 
no more indication of a trail in one place than in another; 
but our veteran guide, who possessed all the sagacity of the 
ideal red man, led the way, and all the rest of us had to do 
was to follow his tracks. Soon we emerged from the Eastern 
Woods, and getting into more open country, turned our 
course toward the south, crossing broad plains, diversified 
here and there by stunted, scattered trees, ice-covered ponds, 
and occasionally the thickly wooded valley of a winding 
stream. As we travelled on my leg caused me intense pain, 
so that it became impossible to keep up with the train. I 
hobbled along as well as I could for a time, but finding that 
I was seriously retarding the progress of the march, arrange- 



ments were made to give me a lift on one of the sleds. 
Pierre and Louis were also becoming lame from the use of 
their snowshoes, to which they were not yet hardened, but 
were not seriously crippled.* 

During the second day from Churchill a herd of twenty 
or thirty deer was seen. Some of us were in no mood or con- 
dition to hunt, but Jimmie, the guide, our own man Jim, 
and Mr. Matheson went off in pursuit of the band. Several 
times during the afternoon we crossed the tracks of both 
deer and hunters, but when we came upon the big tracks of 
our guide we saw the first signs of success. He had evidently 
wounded a deer and was giving him a hot chase, for 
the Indian's strides were right upon those of the caribou, 
and to one side of the trail spatters of blood could be seen 
on the snow. Toward evening our train came up with Mr. 
Matheson and Jim, who had a long but fruitless run after 
the deer, but nothing could be seen of the guide. Some time 
after camp had been made for the night Jimmie walked in 
with a haunch of venison on his shoulder. He had wounded 
his deer early in the afternoon, but had been obliged to run 
him many miles before he could again come up with him. 
Lest the carcase, which was lying some distance from camp, 
should be devoured by wolves in the night, a team was har- 
nessed and Jimmie himself, with another man, started off for 
the meat, which, a few hours later, they brought into camp. 
As we had had very little fresh meat for some time past, 
supper of venison steak was gratefully appreciated. 

During the day's march numerous wolf and polar bear 
tracks had been crossed, but the caribou were the only ani- 
mals seen. 

*For the benefit of anyone who may be not aware of the fact, I 
will explain that there are various kinds of lameness commonly 
produced by the prolonged use of snowshoes. In thus travelling, 
certain leg muscles which are only accustomed to perform light 
service are brought into vigorous use, and are very liable to become 
strained and cause much discomfort and suffering. 



The next day's tramp was a short one, not in actual miles 
travelled by some of us, but in distance made upon the 
oouTse. We had, however, a good day's sport, for at different 
times during the day no less than eight deer were shot. My 
brother and I were not able to take part in the chase, for by 
this time, though I was beginning to recover, my brother was 
as badly crippled as I had been, and for a time had to be 
drawn on a sled. I should not, perhaps, say we took no part 
in the chase, for my brother made one remarkable shot. 

At about the close of day, a small deer which Mr. Mathe- 
sou had been following, and at which he had been practising 
for some time with my brother's rifle, stood still and looked 
at him with innocent amazement, at a distance of about 
three hundred yards from our train. Probably the cause 
of Mr. Matheson's bad shooting was the cross wind which 
was blowing strongly at the time; however, he gave up 
in disgust and returned the rifle to my brother, asking him 
to try a shot. My brother said it was useless for him to try, 
as the deer had now run still farther away, and he himself 
had only one leg to stand on. But, dropping on his knee, 
he fired once, and down came the deer. 

Several of the best haunches of venison secured were loaded 
upon the sleds, but it was not thought wise to overload the 
teams by trying to carry too much. The bulk of the meat 
was " cached " where it was killed, to be picked up by the 
Company's teams on their return trip and taken to Churchill 
to replenish the larder. Our third camp was made in a strip 
of wood upon the bank of Salmon Creek, and to our Indians 
it will be memorable as being the place at which they had the 
"big feed," for it took three suppers to satisfy them that 
night. "With my brother and myself the hours of darlmess 
had ceased to bring repose. Our knees were so painful we 
did not sleep, but only turned restlessly from side to side 
until the return of dawn. Happily for us all, the weather 
had continued to be fair, with no extreme cold since the 



commeneement of the journey, which was particularly fortu- 
nate on account of poor Michel, who would doubtless have 
suffered had he been obliged to ride upon a sled all day dur- 
ing severe weather. As it was, we were able to keep him 
fairly comfortable by bundling him up in deerskin robes and 

On the fourth day, meeting with no deer, we made about 
twenty-seven miles, a good march under the circumstances. 
This brought us to the banks of Owl Eiver, a stream two or 
three hundred yards in width, situated about midway 
between York and Churchill. 

At dawn the next morning we were again marching 
southward, with the expectation of that day reaching Stony 
Eiver, where William Westasecot, a brother of the guide, 
was encamped, and where our parties were to separate. 

Three more deer were shot during the day, making a total 
of twelve for the trip, most of them victims of the Indian 
guide. About four o'clock in the afternoon we arrived at 
Stony River, but there was no Indian camp to be seen, and 
for a time we saw no signs of any human presence. We 
turned down the river, and ere long came upon the tracks 
of a solitary hunter. These Jimmie knew to be the tracks 
of his brother, and by following them a mile or two into a 
dense evergreen wood, we came upon the camp. It was a 
solitary tepee, situated in the heart of a snow-clad thicket of 
spruce trees and scrub, so dense that a bird could scarcely 
fly through it. 

The lodge of the hunter was built of poles placed closely 
together, and arranged in the shape of a cone. The cracks 
between the poles were chinked tightly with moss, with 
which the tepee was then covered, excepting a foot or so at 
the top, where a hole was left for the chinmey. An opening 
made in the wall to serve as a doorway was closed by a 
heavy curtain of deerskin, and as we lifted it we saw in the 
centre of the lod2;e, upon a square, mud-covered hearth, a 



smouldering wood fire, from which the circling smoke 
ascended to find its way through the chimney, while 
huddled around it by the wall were the old Indian, his 
squaw and their children. Deerskin cushions were offered 
us, and as we seated ourselves more wood was piled on the 

William Westasecot was a much older man than his 
brother, for his long flowing locks were already whitened 
with age, though he still appeared strong and athletic. 
Presents of tobacco were passed around; pipes were then 
lighted, and information sought and obtained, both by our- 
selves and the Indian. We found that William had seen 
and killed only one deer for some weeks past, and was now 
almost out of food and entirely out of ammunition. We 
supplied him with the latter, and told him where, within a 
day's travel, he might supply himself with the former. 

From him we learned that the great Nelson River, which 
we expected to reach within two or three days, was still quite 
open, and that we should find a large boat, in which we might 
cross, some miles up the river. It was arranged, also, .that 
William's elder son should accompany us to York, and assist 
by hauling a flat sled. 

Guilford LolMq^^ 
Ma^ 2.7 

-RoBEHT-VoWLcaiUk '^^ Qeo-.TSrior 

y -^78 7 


14 209 



On the morning of the 11th of November our parties 
arranged to separate. The route of Mr. Matheson's party 
henceforth lay away to the eastward, while our path still led 
to the south, toward the banks of the ISTelson Eiver. A place 
was prepared on our own . dogsled for crippled Michel, and 
the team of six dogs harnessed. Then the flat sleds, including 
one for Eli, the son of old William the Indian, were loaded 
with all that the dogs were unable to haul. Our supplies by 
this time were diminished to the extent of about two hun- 
dred and fifty pounds, so, that, even with the additional 
weight of a man, the loads were lighter than at the outset of 
the journey. 

Loads being thus readjusted, and our feet harnessed to 
snowshoes, we bade farewell to our friends from the Fort, as 
well as to those of the forest, and made a new start. 

The weather was now unusually mild for the month of 
November, making the snow soft, and even wet in some 
places. This made travelling hard for the team, as it' caused 
the ice-glazing to melt from the sled, and the mud-shoeing 
to wear and drag heavily upon the track. My brother and I 
still suffered much from our crippled limbs, but with con- 
siderable difficulty managed to keep up with the rest. After 
making a small day's march we camped for the night on the 
bank of a stream called by the Indians the White Bear Creek. 
The weather having turned colder during the night, making 
the prospects for travel more favorable, we started dovTn 
stream the next morning upon the ice of the creek, and then 




struck across country to Duck Creek, where we found a 
second Indian camp, occupied by two Crees and their 

From one of these Indians, named Morrison, we pur- 
chased an additional dog with which to supplement our team. 
The price asked was a new dress for one of the squaws, but 
as we had no dress goods with us, the best we could offer was 
that the dress would be ordered at the Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany's store at York, and delivered when the first oppor- 
tunity ali'orded. After some consideration, and several pipes 
of tobacco, the offer was accepted, and with seven dogs in our 
team the journey resumed. We followed the creek till it led 
us out to the low, dreary coast at the mouth of the Nelson, 
where, having left the woods several miles inland, we were 
exposed to the full sweep of a piercingly cold, raw, south- 
west wind. 

We are accustomed to thinking of a coast as a definite, 
narrow shore-line; but to the inhabitants of the Hudson 
Bay region the word conveys a very different meaning. 
There the coast is a broad mud and boulder flat, several miles 
in width, always wet, and twice during the day flooded by 
the tide. At this time of the year the mud flats were covered 
by rough broken ice and drifted snow, but above high-tide 
mark the surface of the country was level and the walking 
good. Tor several hours we tramped southward down the 
coast, with the cutting wind in our faces. During the after- 
noon we sought shelter, but finding none, our course was 
altered and shaped for the nearest wood, several miles inland. 
The great advantage of travelling on the open plain is that 
there the snow is driven hard, and hence the walking is much 
better than in the woods, where the snow is soft and deep. 
Nevertheless, when the weather is rough— as it was on this 
occasion— the heavy walking is preferable to travelling in the 
open country in the teeth of the storm. 

For the remainder of the day we bore southward, and 



about sunset made camp on the south bank of a stream known 
as Sam's Creek, in a lovely snow-laden evergreen forest — an 
ideal Canadian winter woodland picture. From this beauti- 
ful but chilling scene our tramp was continued next morning 
at daylight. The low shore of the ISTelson was again reached 
and followed until, about noon, a decided change in the char- 
acter of the land was observed. A boulder clay bank com- 
menced to make its appearance, and this as we advanced 
rapidly reached an elevation of twenty-five or thirty feet, and 
as we proceeded up the river, became higher and more thickly 
wooded. The change was a great relief from the level, tree- 
less coast. 

We were now well within the mouth of the great Nelson 
Kiver, and could already, through the rising vapor, dimly 
see the outline of the opposite shore. 

Considerable ice was coming down the river, and on this 
account we felt some anxiety as to crossing ; but we were now 
within a few miles of the boat of which we had been in- 
formed, and it seemed possible that we might yet cross the 
stream before nightfall. In the middle of the afternoon we 
foimd the boat drawn up at the mouth of Heart Creek, where 
the old Indian hunter had left it. It was a large heavily 
built sailboat, capable of carrying our whole outfit in one 
load, but unfortunately the keel was deeply imbedded in the 
sand and there securely frozen. The only way to free it was 
to chop it out, and at this task as many hands were set as 
could find room to work. Long pries were cut and vigor- 
ously applied, but even with our united efforts we only 
managed to get the boat loosened by nightfall. We were 
obliged, therefore, to leave it until morning, and seek a 
place to camp. 

During the night the wind, which had been blowing pretty 
strongly for two days past, increased to a gale from the 
north-west. This unwelcome guest did not come by himself, 
but brought with him his friend the snowstorm, and they 



two held high carnival all night, vying with each other as to 
which should cause the strange intruders in the grove the 
more discomfort. TJie gale shrieked through the trees and 
threatened to level our shelter; nor was he contented with 
this, but entered the camp and played pranks with our fire 
and blankets. The more stealthy snowstorm, making less 
noise than his blustering friend, before daylight had filled 
the ravine with white drifts and almost buried us. 

Such was our condition on the morning of the 14th. As 
this was the ninth day from Churchill, our supply of pro- 
visions was about exhausted, but we were now only one day's 
march from York. After breakfast, despite the condition 
of the weather, all hands proceeded to the boat, and by a 
united effort managed to drag it out to the edge of the shore- 
ice; but the tide being low, there was no water to float it. 
We, therefore, had to await the flood-tide, which would not be 
up tiU about noon. Meanwhile the boat was loaded where it 
rested upon the sand, and at twelve o'clock, being lifted by 
the water, a canvas was hoisted, and through a dense fog 
which rose from the river we sailed up the shore to find a 
narrow part of the stream where we might avoid the broad 
shoals which extended out from the opposite shore. 

Having proceeded some three niiles up, to the vicinity of 
Flamboro' Head, a bold headland, our course was altered, 
and we steered into the fog for the south shore — about two 
miles distant. The wind was piercingly cold, instantly freez- 
ing every splash as it fell, and still blowing fresh, so that 
our ice-laden craft sped swiftly away on her course. Some 
floating ice was met, but successfully passed, and for a time 
it seemed as if the crossing would soon be effected ; but sud- 
denly there loomed out of the mist, right ahead, a dense 
field of ice, broken and rafted and hurrying down with the 
current. By putting the helm hard to starboard, and quickly 
dropping our canvas, we managed to keep clear of the mass ; 
but what was now to be done ? 



The south shore was still hidden by dense volumes of 
vapor, and nothing could he seen in that direction hut the 
adjacent fields of ice. On the north shore the dark outline 
of Elamhoro' Head could stiU be discerned, and it was 
resolved- thence to beat our retreat. We were, however, 
unable to sail against the wind; but taking to the oars, we 
managed, after a prolonged and difficult struggle, to regain 
the place whence we had started. 

Once more on land a camp was made, and a fire kindled 
to thaw out our stiffened limbs, while we awaited an oppor- 
tunity to cross. The mist continued the rest of the day, pre- 
venting us from making a second attempt, and so we lay up 
for the night. 

Next morning the fog had cleared away, revealing a 
dismal sight. On the south side the river was frozen over, 
and the ice firmly set for a mile or more from shore, while 
the channel to the north was running full of heavy ice, 
making it quite impossible to use the boat, and equally 
impossible to effect a crossing on foot. 

We had no alternative' but to remain where we were and 
hope for a change in the condition of the river. Not the 
least unpleasant feature of this waiting was that our pro- 
visions were now gone. 

The men were at once sent out to hunt, and returned in 
the evening with nine ptarmigan, with which a good Vouillon 
was made for supper. Besides this, Eli, the Indian boy, 
gave us some comforting information as to the existence of 
a fish cache of his father's, not far distant. With this con- 
soling knowledge we rolled up in our blankets and were soon 
dreaming of better times. 

The next morning, there being no change in the river, two 
men and the dogs were sent after William's fish cache, and 
four others went off hunting, while the rest remained at 
camp collecting wood and keeping the fire burning. 

We had nothing to eat this day until evening, when the 



sledding party returned with a little bag and can of pounded 
dried fish, two or three gallons of seal oil, and some seal 
blubber for the dogs ; all of which, though not exactly luxu- 
rious, we were heartily glad to receive. Later two of the 
hunters returned with several ptarmigan and one or two rab- 
bits, and last of all, sometime after dark, the remaining 
two — Jim and our noble guide — ^walked into camp carrying 
the carcase of a deer. 

We had meat enough now, with careful use, to keep us 
from suffering for several days, and in order to guard against 
greed or waste, my brother and I took possession of the stock 
and divided it up equally among the party, each man receiv- 
ing in all about ten pounds. 

Without narrating in detail the incidents following, it will 
be sufficient to state that for ten long days our weary wait on 
the bleak banks of the Nelson was continued. From time to 
time the men were sent out to hunt, but except in the above 
instance, were obliged to return empty-handed. 

On the morning of the 19th, the guide and Jim, provided 
with rifles, blankets, axes and snowshoes, started up the river, 
determined to find deer if there were any in the neighbor- 
hood, and also to investigate the possibilities of crossing the 
river higher up. 

Four days of bitterly cold weather passed, the ther- 
mometer varying from 12 to 15 degrees below zero, and back 
came our discouraged hunters without having fired a shot. 
Food was becoming alarmingly scarce. A fox which hap- 
pened in our way was trapped and eagerly devoured. 

On the evening of the 22nd, though the mercury indicated 
22 deg. below zero, the channel of. the river above us was 
noticed to be less thickly blocked with ice than where we 
were encamped. It was resolved, if possible, to haul the boat 
a mile or two farther up stream, and there to launch and 
measure our strength with the floe. 

All hands excepting Michel, who was still unable to walk, 



engaged in the work. The boat was launched, and by means 
of a long line we managed to tow it about half a mile up 
shore, but there the ice became so thick that we had to haul 
it out to prevent its being crushed. Our objective point was 
about a mile farther up, so an effort was made to haul the 
boat along the shore. It was all the ten of us could manage, 
but by about nightfall we had succeeded. The night being 
clear and light, we moved camp to the boat, that we might be 
prepared to cross in the morning if it were possible. 

The next morning was bitterly cold and a fog was rising 
from the river. We towed the boat half a mile still farther 
up, until the Seal Islands were reached. Here we pushed 
out into the stream and commenced the struggle. 

Every man was armed with an oar, a pole or an axe, and 
all of these were vigorously applied in forcing our way 
through the ice and the current. Eor a time we made fair 
progress, but before long were caught in the grip of the ice- 
pack and hurried down with the stream toward the sea. 

We pushed and we pulled, we pounded and hacked, and at 
length got into a channel of open water. Again we were 
beset, but again got free, and so after much exertion we 
crossed the channel and landed upon the stationary ice. We 
had taken this for shore-ice, but were sorely disappointed to 
find it was only a jam in the middle of the channel. 

What was now to be done ? It was impossible to tow the 
boat around the upper end of the jam; and to allow it to 
drift down past the lower end would mean that we would be 
carried with the current out to sea and be irrevocably lost. 

After carefully considering the situation, we concluded to 
portage across the island of ice and launch on the other side. 
Accordingly the boat was unloaded and piece by piece every- 
thing was carried safely across, but when we attempted to 
portage the boat, it and we continually broke through the 
surface. We were therefore obliged to cut a channel right 
through the island, the full width of the boat. After much 



labor this was accomplished, the boat hauled through, 
reloaded, and again pushed out into the flowing pack, which 
carried us, in spite of all our endeavors, far down toward the 
mouth of the river. 

At length we had succeeded in getting within thirty feet 
of the solid south-shore ice, but even then, when the shore 
seemed almost within reach, we were nipped in the floe and 
again carried helplessly downward, until it seemed as if, 
after all, we were going to be carried out to sea. , 

We used every effort to free the boat, but all to no avail. 
At last, however, civil war among the floes caused a split and 
brought deliverance. A few rapid strokes and our old craft 
bumped against the solid ice. 

The bowman, Frangois, quick as a flash, sprang out with 
the end of the tow-line, while the rushing ice again caught 
the boat and bore it downward. Frangois held on to the 
tow-line with all his might, but the tug-of-war was going 
against him; he yielded, fell, and for a short distance was 
dragged over the broken hummocks of ice; but bracing his 
feet against one of these, he formed himself into a veritable 
ice-anchor, and with herculean strength held us fast until 
others sprang out to his assistance. 

All hands quickly disembarked, but as there was still 
between us and the shore a full mile of rough ice, liable to 
break adrift at any moment, no time was lost in exultation. 
The boat was unloaded, hauled up, and the tramp commenced 
for the \ shore. After much exertion we reached land, and 
every man felt a thrill of exultation that the Nelson was at 
last to the north of us. 

We were all much chilled from exposure, so a fire was 
made in the edge of the woods. Spruce boughs were strewn 
about it to keep our feet from the snow, and the cheerful 
warmth was most gratefully enjoyed. 

A little of the pounded dried-fish still remaining was 
fried on a pan with seal oil, the combination forming a dish 



that might be described as fish-flavored chips steeped in oil ; 
but with appetites such as ours it could be eaten — ^though 
I cannot say relished. 

After this " refreshment " had been partaken of, and the 
stiffness thawed from our limbs, snowsho^s were adjusted, 
and with a " Hurrah for York !" the march was resumed. 

One more camp was made, and on the following day, the 
24th of November, and the nineteenth day since leaving 
Churchill, we reached York Factory. 





Upon arriving at York we were kindly received by the 
officer of the Hudson's Bay Company, Dr. Milne. Our men 
were given lodgings and rations in one o£ the many vacant 
houses in the Fort, while my brother and I were shovsoi into 
the Doctor's bachelor quarters, and allowed to occupy the 
room of Mr. Mowat, the assistant trader, who was absent at 
the time. 

The first articles essential to comfort were tubs and warm 
water. With travellers in the north, particularly during the 
winter season, the practice of performing daily ablutions is 
quite unheard of. This is not owing to neglect, but is rather 
an enforced custom due to the painful effects produced by the 
application of ice-cold water to the skin. During the pre- 
vious summer and autumn my brother and I adhered to 
the habit of daily washing our hands and face, until our 
skin became so cracked and sore that we were forced to 

Besides Dr. Milne and an old-time servant, Macpherson, 
Mr. Mowat, now temporarily absent, was the only other 
white resident in York. He had, only a few days before our 
arrival, been sent off with two Indians as a relief party to 
look for the Company's autumn mail, which was now more 
than six weeks overdue. The mail should have come dovm 
the Hays Eiver from Oxford House, 250 miles distant, 
before the close of navigation, but as nothing had yet been 
heard of it or the party, fears were entertained as to their 
safety. It was thought they must have been lost in the 



As to York Factory, it is one of those places of which it 
may be said " the light of other days has faded." In the 
earlier days of the Hudson's Bay Company it was an 
important centre of trade, the port at which all goods for the 
interior posts were received, and from which the enormous 
harvests of valuable furs were annually shipped. Such busi- 
ness naturally necessitated the building of large store- 
houses and many dwellings to shelter the goods and provide 
accommodation for the large staff of necessary servants. As 
late as the summer of 1886, when I visited York, there was 
a white population of about thirty, besides a number of 
Indians and half-breeds in the employ of the Company ; but 
things had now changed. Less expensive ways of transport- 
ing goods into the interior than freighting them himdreds 
of miles up the rivers in York boats now existed, and as 
the local supply of furs had become scarce, serious results 
necessarily followed. Gradually the staff of servants had 
been dismissed or removed, and one by one the dwellings 
vacated, until York was now almost a deserted village. The 
Indians also had nearly all gone to other parts of the 

One of the first duties receiving our attention upon reach- 
ing York was the placing of poor crippled Michel in the 
doctor's hands. His frozen feet, still dreadfully sore, were 
carefully attended to, and it was thought that in the course 
of a few weeks they might be sufficiently recovered to allow 
him to walk. As to taking him any farther with us, that was 
unadvisaible, for he was now in the care of a physician, and 
in a place where he would receive all necessary attention. 
Besides, we would have no means of carrying him, unless 
upon a sled drawn by our own men, and such an additional 
burden would seriously retard progress. It was therefore 
admitted by all that the best plan was to leave Michel in 
Dr. Milne's care, to be forwarded as soon as he was well 
enough to walk. This was promptly arranged, and with as 



little delay as possible preparations were made for departure. 
Two dogs from our Churchill team were purchased out- 
right from Jinmiie, who happened to be the owner of them, 
and a third having been secured from Morrison, the Indian, 
we only required one more to make up a fair team, and this 
was procured from the Doctor. Another team was hired 
from the Company, and it was at first thought, with the aid 
of these two, we might comfortably make the twelve days'' 
trip to Oxford House. But when supply bills were made 
out it was found that, with the assistance of only two teams 
for so long a trip, each man would have to haul a heavily- 
loaded toboggan. The Doctor therefore, with some difficulty, 
raised a third team to accompany us for two days on the 

The next necessary preparation was the procuring of a 
guide and drivers for the teams. As the mail-carriers and 
two other Indians, Mr. Mowat's companions, had already 
gone to Oxford House, few men were left at the Fort who 
knew the route; but happily a man was found who turned 
out to be another brother of our guide from Churchill. He 
was a very dark Indian, younger than Jimmie, and of much 
less noble appearance, and was known by the name of Charlie. 
He was said to be well fitted for the purpose, and we felt that 
a brother of our guide could not be a very poor man. Our 
party, including Arthur Omen, the driver from Churchill, 
who had determined to accompany us out of the country, 
was now complete. Twelve days' rations, consisting of 
bacon, flour, sugar and tea, were served out to each man, 
with a warning to make them last through the trip or suffer 
the consequences. The flour was then baked up into the 
more convenient form of cakes. Dog-fish was also provided, 
and all being loaded upon the three sleds and two tobog- 
gans, the second stage of our sledding journey was begun on 
Tuesday morning, the 28th of November. The dog-sleds 
were not the same as those we had used in traversing the 



hard driven snow of the plains, but were what are known as 
" flat sleds," or large toboggans, they being better suited to 
woodland travel. 

The condition of our party on leaving York was vastly 
different from what it had been on leaving Churchill. The 
two hundred mile tramp, although crippling some of us and 
causing all plenty of exertion, had hardened our muscles so 
much that, with the ten days' " lie up " on the bank of the 
Nelson Eiver, and a four days' rest at York, we were now 
in first;class walking trim, and started up the Hays Eiver 
at a brisk pace. 

The first day's march was upon the river ice, and our first 
camp was made on the bank, in two feet of snow, beneath 
the shelter of the evergreens. Beyond this our course led 
through the woods to the north of the river, and by many 
winding ways we journeyed on. 

On the morning of the third day the assisting team from 
York, leaving its load with us, returned to the Factory. A 
readjustment of loads was then made, and with the two 
remaining teams we pushed on, though now more slowly, for 
Oxford House. 

At about noon on the 1st of December we were pleased to 
meet Mr. Mowat and party, returning with the long-looked- 
for mail, all safe. The delay in the arrival of the mail 
had- -been caused by one of the Indians becoming ill soon 
after leaving Norway House, and having to return to that 
post. After a brief halt, each party now having the advan- 
tage of the other's track, we started on, pursuing opposite 
ways, they to their lonely home on the ice-bound coast of 
Hudson Bay, and we towards ours in the more congenial 

At this time the temperature remained pretty steady at 
about 25 degrees below zero, but with the exertion of the 
march during the day, and the shelter of blankets and the 



warmth of the camp-fire at night, we managed to keep 
fairly comfortable. 

About sixteen miles beyond a large stream known as Tox 
River, we came upon an ancient track. This in earlier days 
had been travelled by oxen and Red River carts, and over 
it hundreds of tons of freight had annually been hauled; 
but now it was so grown up with trees that it often taxed 
the skill of the guide to keep it. The track led directly to 
Oxford, so that from this forward it was to be our road. 

Since leaving the banks of the Hays River no timber of 
any value had been seen. The wood had all been black 
spruce of a very scrubby character, but now poplar, birch 
and jack-pine were occasionally met with. 

On December the 4th the temperature ran down to 34 
degrees below zero, but on the following day this record was 
beaten, and 40 degrees below was registered. In this low 
temperature we naturally found some difficulty in keeping 
warm. When the day's tramp was over, and our position 
taken for the night beside the camp-fire, it was found neces- 
sary either to slowly revolve or frequently reverse our posi- 
tion. It was a question of roasting or freezing, or' rather 
doing both at the same time. While one's face was turned 
to the fire and enduring a roasting heat, his back was freez- 
ing, and as the position was reversed the roasting and 
freezing process was also reversed. Our meals, after being 
prepared, were served up on the hot pan to keep them warm 
while eating, but even so they were sometimes frozen to the 
frying-pan before they could be disposed of. ♦ 

During the afternoon of the 4th and tTie morning of the 
5th of December we crossed Deer Lake, twenty-seven miles 
in length, and at either end of the lake found camps of 
Indians. From one of them we purchased some fine white- 
fish, which they were catching through the ice. 

By this time our guide Charlie had become pretty badly 
used up by the march. He was no longer able to hold the 



lead, but our own men managed to keep the track, and 
Charlie hobbled along behind. 

During the evening of the 6th and the morning of the 7th 
of December we crossed a succession of thirteen small lakes 
and some open plains, but the afternoon of the latter day 
saw a marked change in the character of the country. With 
the exception of two or three isolated patches, we had seen 
nothing in the shape of timber of any value since leaving 
York — indeed, I might say since leaving Churchill, or even 
a thousand miles or so farther back on the road. But now 
we had reached a heavy forest of white spruce, jack-pine, 
poplar and birch trees, and the change was a pleasing one. 

For a distance of six or eight miles we trudged through 
this heavy forest, and then, just at nightfall, reached the 
shore of Back Lake, really an extension of Oxford Lake. 
One of my brother's feet had become so sore during the day 
that he had been obliged to walk with only one snowshoe. 
On this account we had fallen several miles behind the 
leaders of the party, and when we arrived at the shore of the 
lake above described, nothing could we see of the outfit, and 
both because of darkness and the hard surface of the snow, 
it was with great difficulty we were able to follow the track. 
It led away across the lake, and for a time we managed to 
follow it. While doing so we carefully noted its bearing, but 
soon the faint tracks could no longer be followed, for the 
mght was becoming dark. We feared to lose them, as there 
might be a change in their, course and then our bearing 
would not lead us aright.' For a time, upon hands and 
knees, we tried tp follow the trail, but could not keep upon 
it continuously. 

Keeping as straight a course as possible, we pressed on 
through the darkness toward the distant shore, the dark out- 
line of which could just be discerned against the lighter sky. 
At length we reached the shore, when, after passing through 
Si narrow strip of woods, to our joy there suddenly flashed 



out before us, a few yards ahead, the lights of Oxford House. 
A few minutes later we were the guests of Mr. and Mrs. 
lishister, one of the most hospitable old couples it has ever 
been my good fortune to meet. Mr. Isbister was the local 
•agent of the Hudson's Bay Company, and was a thorough 
old-time Canadian, one of those men fiUed with remi- 
niscences of early Canadian life in the north, and whose 
many stories were a delight to hear. 


Having reached Oxford in safety, preparations were at 
once commenced for our journey to the next post — Norway 
House — 150 miles farther west. Some delay was occasioned 
in getting dogs, but at length three miserable, half-starved 
teams were secured, and with a new guide and drivers we 
set out on the third stage of our winter journey. Without 
narrating the many incidents by the way, I need only say 
that after a six days' tramp, with the thermometer in the 
neighborhood of 40 degrees below zero, we arrived safely 
15 225 


at ISTorway House, an important Hudson's Bay Company's 
post, situated at the northern extremity of Lake Winnipeg. 
Two of the dog-teams procured at Oxford had been intended 
to haul my brother and myself, and for a time they did so, 
but the poor animals were in such a wretched condition from 
the effects of former hard work that we preferred to walk 
most of the time, and before we reached our destination 


considered ourselves fortunate that we escaped having to 
haul the dogs. 

At ISTorway House the difficulties of the journey, so far 
as my brother and I were concerned, were practically ended. 
Enough strong, capable dogs were here secured to admit of 
our travelling in carryalls for the remaining four hundred 
miles still separating us from "West Selkirk, the northern 
terminus of the railway; but, of course, the Indians had to 









stick to their snowshoes. It was here decided to divide our 
party, and send the three western men home, assisted by the 
team of Eskimo dogs which had accompanied us the whole 
six hundred miles from Churchill. The valley of the Sas- 
katchewan River would be their most direct course, in taking 
which route they would reach their several homes by 
travelling about the same distance as ourselves. Arthur 
Omen, the driver from Churchill, chose to go up the Sas- 
katchewan with the western men, so that of the original 
party there only remained the two Iroquois, Pierre and 
Louis, to accompany my brother and myseK. With the 
least possible delay four good dog-teams, as many drivers, 
and a guide were procured from Mr. J. K. Macdonald, the 
Hudson's Bay Company's factor, who showed us much 
kindness, and two days before Christmas the last and 
longest division of our journey was begun. 

My brother and I were now warmly rolled up in robes 
and blankets and lying in our carryalls. Supplies and bag- 
gage were all loaded upon the two remaining sleds, and with 
a driver trotting along beside or behind each team, the guide 
running before, and the two Iroquois sometimes before and 
sometimes behind, we travelled on an almost due south 
course over the ice near the shore of Lake Winnipeg. About 
the same time that we started for the south, the other section 
set out across the lake to the westward for the mouth of the 
Saskatchewan River. 

Our teams, of four dogs each, were for the most part fine 
powerful animals, and we soon found there was no necessity 
for my brother or myself exerting ourselves more than we 
desired. The teams travelled all day, and, indeed, day after 
day, at a rapid trot, sometimes breaking into a gallop, so 
that it gave the Indians all they could do to keep up with 

Taking smooth and rough together, we made an average 
of about forty miles per day, and some days as much as 



forty-six or forty-seven miles. When we had made about 
half the distance to Selkirk, and were in the neighborhood 
of a fishing station at the mouth of Berens Kiver, poor 
Pierre played out; but, most opportunely, we met a man 
teaming .fish to Selkirk and secured a passage for him, 
while we ourselves pushed on. When we had made another 
hundred miles, Louis, the remaining Iroquois, also became 
crippled. Arrangements were made to have him, too, driven 
in with a horse and sleigh, and without delay we pursued 
our journey. 

At length, after a long and rapid trip, which occupied ten 
days, on the evening of the 1st of January, 1894, under the 
light of the street lamps of the little town, our teams trotted 
up the streets of West Selkirk, thus completing a canoe and 
snowshoe journey of three thousand two hundred miles. 

I need hardly say that the telegraph office was soon found, 
and messages despatched to anxious friends, who, having 
heard, nothing from us for many months, had begun to 
entertain grave fears for our safety. Thirteen hundred 
miles more of travel by rail brought, us home again after 
an absence of just eight months. 




FoET Chuechill may be regarded as the gateway through 
which, we have every reason to believe, in the no very distant 
future, a large share of the products of our western provinces 
is destined to pass on its way to the great markets of the 
world. This statement is not, made thoughtlessly, nor without 
some knowledge of the subject, for since the years 1885 and 
1886, when, as hydrographer and meteorological observer on 
the Gordon expedition to Hudson Bay, I spent a year and a 
half on its desolate shores, I have made the study of Hudson 
Bay and the question of its navigation and development a 
part of my life's work; and it is because of this fact, and the 
consequent acquisition of a considerable amount of first-hand 
knowledge of the subject, that I have been prompted to in- 
scribe this chapter. 

Although discovered nearly three hundred years ago, Hud- 
son Bay has remained, up to the present time, a compara- 
tively unknown sea, and an entirely undeveloped source of 
wealth to our country. Although possessing an area five 
times as large as our Great Lakes combined, and a tidal coast- 
line of about six thousand miles, at no place is this as yet 
accessible by any form of improved highway; and it can 
still be reached, from the settled parts of Canada, only by 
means of canoes or other small boats following the routes of 
some of our God-given streams. 

Into the bay are discharged a score of mighty rivers, some 
of which rank among the largest on the Continent, although 
an unfortunate feature of many of them is that they are 
extremely shallow at their mouths. 



This is not so, however, in the case of the Churchill, the 
mouth of which, on being surveyed by me, was found to 
afford an excellent natural harbor, with nine fathoms of 
water at low tide up to the entrance, and from four to five 
fathoms within. 

A map of this harbor, prepared from my own surveys, 
, made on different occasions, is presented herewith, and shows 
the relative positions of the various points of interest, such 
as the Hudson's Bay Company's post, old Fort Prince of 
"Wales, the Mission station, Sloops Cove (where the Furnace 
and Discovery wintered in 1741), the whaling station on the 
east side of the harbor, the available anchorage for ships, the 
best railway terminal site, and, lastly, the Police Barracks, 
only recently established, and occupied by Major Moodie and 
his men. 


Before dealing with the more important questions of the 
resources and navigation of the bay, it may be of interest to 
briefly review the history of its discovery and exploration. 
As every Canadian schoolboy knows, the discovery of the 
bay was made by Henry Hudson, in the year 1610. Being 
an experienced navigator in foreign seas, he was given com- 
mand of the Discovery — a small vessel of 55 tons, outfitted 
by English capitalists — -and in this he set sail for the discov- 
ery of the long-looked-f or ISTorth-west Passage. In the accom- 
plishment of this object he was unsuccessful, although a 
greater achievement attended his efforts, in winning which dis- 
tinction he forfeited his ovrai life and that of his son, both of 
whom, with a loyal carpenter, John King, were sent adrift in 
an open boat by a mutinous crew, the leaders of which were 
soon afterwards murdered by Eskimos. Such was the first 
tragic scene enacted by civilized men in the great theatre of 
Hudson Bay. 

Although the discovery of the bay is attributed to Hudson, 



Churchill Harbour 



that of Hudson Strait was made by Sir Martin Frobisher, 
who, in command of three small vessels, two of 25 tons and 
one of only 10 tons, sighted the eastern entrance to the strait 
in Jnly, 1576, and two years later, with a fleet of fifteen 
ships in quest of ore, entered Hudson Strait and " sailed 
several days westward through it." 

John Davis, in 1585, rediscovered the strait, and, in 1602, 
George Weymouth, in the Discovery, sailed a considerable 
distance up it. 

Following the discovery of the bay by Hudson, Sir Thomas 
Button re-entered it in 1612, and after spending the summer 
in exploring the northern and western shores, he wintered in 
the mouth of the Nelson Eiver, and was thus the first to suc- 
cessfully pass a winter in the bay and to return with the 
fruits of his labors. 

In the summer of 1615 Bafiin passed through Hudson 
Strait and into the bay in search of a north-west passage, 
but finding none, he returned the same season to England. 

In May, 1619, Captain Jens Munk, in command of a 
Danish Arctic expedition, sailed from Copenhagen with two 
small vessels and a total of sixty-four men. He reached the 
entrance to Hudson Strait (Fretum Christian, as named 
by him), on July the 21th, and after experiencing much 
difficulty, and escaping many dangers in his little crafts, 
chiefly from meeting with drifting ice, he entered Hudson 
Bay, and apparently crossed it in a comparatively direct 
course to the mouth of the Churchill River, which harbor 
he entered early in September, and was thus the first white 
man, so far as we know, to enter that port. 

Munk named the country in the vicinity of Churchill 
Novam Daniam, and after securing his vessels as best he 
■could, he sent out exploring parties, both to the north and 
the south. Finding no better harbor on the coast than at 
Churchill, he decided to spend the winter there, and accord- 
ingly moored his ships, as nearly as can be ascertained from 



his own description and crude sketch, directly in front of 
the present Hudson's Bay Company's trading station. 
Two or more small buildings appear to have been erected 
upon the west side of the harbor, and this constituted the 
earliest known occupation of this most important harbor on 
the shores of Hudson Bay. The experiences of that early 
occupation, moreover, form one of the saddest pages in it* 
whole history, for without relating all the terrible details 
of their sufferings, we are informed by Munk that he him- 
self and two sailors were the only survivors of that awful 
winter. The immediate cause of their destruction was due 
to a lingering disease, which was undoubtedly scurvy, the 
result of inactivity, uncleanliness and dissipation. 

During the year 1631 two expeditions, under the respec- 
tive commands of Captain Luke Fox and Captain Thomas 
James, were engaged in exploratory work in Hudson Bay — 
the latter wintering on Charlton Island, • where because of 
inexperience and ignorance much suffering was endured. 
Both expeditions returned to England, whence they had 
sailed, without having accomplished anything of substantial 

So little interest resulted from the efforts of these last two 
expeditions that for a period of thirty-seven years we have 
no record of other ships having visited the bay ; but history 
informs us that in 1659 information concerning the Great 
Bay was obtained by two French-Canadian fur traders, 
Eadisson and Groseilliers, who were so impressed with the 
possibilities of trade in that quarter that they returned to 
Quebec with the object of interesting capital in a project to 
establish permanent trading-posts on the shores of the vast 
inland sea. 

Meeting with opposition rather than support at Quebec, 
Groseilliers sought assistance at the English settlement of 
Boston, and later at Paris, but at all of these places he 
failed in the accomplishment of his purpose. However, at 



Paris, in 166Y, the British Ambassador, Lord Preston, hear- 
ing of the proposals of the French-Canadians, sent them 
with a letter to Prince Rupert in England, who received 
them well and endorsed their project. Others became inter- 
ested with him, and the result was that a vessel of fifty 
tons — the Nonsuch — was outfitted, placed under the com- 
mand of Captain Zachius Gillam, and, accompanied by 
Groseilliers, was dispatched on the 3rd of June, 1668, as the 
first trading-ship to the shores of Hudson Bay. 

The Nonsuch reached the strait on August 4th, and passed 
through into the bay on the 19th of the same nionth. Sail- 
ing southward down the eastern main coast, the mouth of 
the Eupert Eiver was reached on the 29th of September, 
and here a stockaded log fort was built, and named Fort 
Charles, after the King. This was the first trading-post 
established in the bay. Here the members of the expedi- 
tion spent the winter with fruitful results, and upon the 
return of Gillam to England, the following summer. Prince 
Eupert and his associates applied to Charles II. for an 
exclusive charter to trade in Hudson Bay and the territory 
beyond. This was granted on the 2nd of May, 16Y0, where- 
upon one Charles Bayly was immediately sent out, as the 
first governor of the Company, to establish Fort Eupert, at 
the mouth of the Eupert Eiver. 

Gradually from year to year other forts were established 
at Albany, Moose, Eastmain, Severn, York and Churchill, 
but not without serious opposition from the French, who 
opposed every move and made conditions most uncomfort- 
able for the English company, until the year 1713, when 
the struggle was terminated, and by the Treaty of Utrecht 
the French relinquished all claims to the territory about 
Hudson Bay. 

In 1719 two vessels, under the command of Captain 
James Knight, sailed from England with the object of 
exploring the northern portion of Hudson Bay and the 



mythical " Anian Strait," but the expedition became 
wrecked near the east end of Marble Island, upon which a 
house was erected. In this the survivors of the ill-fated 
•crews existed for several years, until they all miserably 
perished from starvation and scurvy, the facts not becom- 
ing known until the year 1769, when they were obtained by 
Samuel Hearne, who was that year engaged in whale fishing 
at the island, and accidentally discovered the renmants of 
the expedition, and from the Eskimos learned the sad details 
•of their fate. 

Time will not permit, in this brief summary, to even out- 
line the discoveries of all the expeditions that have sailed 
into Hudson Bay, but the names and dates of some of those 
^following are here given: 

Dobbs in 1737; Churchill and Chesterfield 
Inlet in 1741 ; Dobbs to Port Nelson and Chesterfield Inlet 
in 1746; Christopher to Chesterfield Inlet in 1761; Norton 
to Chesterfield Inlet in 1762; Samuel Hearne, who accom- 
plished one of the most notable journeys in history, from 
Fort Churchill to the mouth of the Coppermine Eiver, 
-during the years 1769-70-71-72; Captain Charles Duncan 
to Eankin and Chesterfield inlets in 1791 ; Sir W. E. Parry, 
In the Fury and Hecla, to Fox Channel and Fury and 
Hecla Strait in 1821; Captain Back to north of bay, in the 
Terror, in 1836; Dr. John Eae from Churchill to Kepulse 
Bay, Committee Bay and Gulf of Boothia, from 1845 to 

The famous but ill-fated Franklin expedition of 1845 did 
not enter Hudson Bay, and is, therefore, not included in 
our summary, nor are the forty or more relief expeditions 
which engaged in the search for the lost explorers. It may 
■ be of interest, however, to note in passing that it was Dr. 
John Eae — relatives of whom still live in Hamilton and 
Dundas — ^who, in 1853-54, obtained the first definite infor- 
Tnation regarding the fate of Franklin and his men. Four 



years later Captain F. L. MoClintock cleared up the mys- 
tery by discovering a record from the lost expedition, and 
full information as to its awful sufferings and complete 
•destruction, off the shores of King William Island. 

Following the explorations of Dr. John Rae, discovery in 
the Hudson Bay district experienced a long period of stag- 
nation, but with the opening up and development of the 
Canadian West the necessity of improved and extended 
transportation facilities presented itself, and the Dominion 
Government undertook to investigate the possibilities of 
Hudson Bay and Strait as a commercial route to Europe. 
For the accomplishment of this important undertaking, 
Lieut. A. R. Gordon, R.N., was placed in command of the 
steamer Neptune in the year 1884, and the steamer Alert 
in the years 1885 and 1886, and, with the assistance of a 
strong staff of officers, thorough and continuous meteoro- 
logical, tidal, magnetic and ice observations were taken at 
seven of the most salient points, both winter and summer, 
for the space of three years. 

During the summer seasons hydrographic and topo- 
graphical surveying was vigorously prosecuted, and it was 
largely in this department of the work that the present 
writer was engaged. During the winter of 1885-86 he also 
acted as observer at Big Island, near the centre of the 
north shore of Hudson Strait — probably the most advan- 
tageous observation point, both 'because of its prominent 
geographical position and its high altitude of four hundred 
and fifty feet above the sea level. In 1893, in company 
with my brother, J. B. Tyrrell, then of the Canadian 
Geological Survey, as in this volume related, and again in 
1900, it fell to my lot to revisit the shores of Hudson Bay. 

During the summer of 1897, Commander Wakeham, in 
the steamer Diana, was again sent to Hudson Strait by the 
Canadian Government to further investigate conditions 
there; and during the years 1903 and 1904, A. P. Low, in 



command of the steamer Neptune, on behalf of the Govern- 
ment of Canada, mads a most fruitful voyage into the bay 
and channels to the north of it, and has since published the 
most complete and comprehensive report upon that section 
of the continent that has yet appeared. 

During the summer of 1905 it yet again fell to my lot to 
revisit the bay, on which occasion I made a complete survey 
of the harbor of Fort Churchill, the most important upon 
the coast. 

Besides the names above-mentioned, many others have 
conducted explorations in the bay of greater or less extent, 
particularly among the mariners of the Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany. Special credit is also due for the extensive work of 
Dr. Kobert Bell, of the Geological Survey, who has con- 
tributed largely to our general store of knowledge regarding 
the Hudson Bay district. 


Under this heading we have to consider one of the im- 
portant questions in connection with the opening up and 
development of the Hudson Bay region. If the local 
resources are of limited extent and little value, then the 
difficulties of creating an outlet for commerce from our 
western wheat-fields to Europe by way of Hudson Bay and 
Strait assume a serious aspect; but if it be true that the 
local resources are of large extent and great value, surely 
the success of a well-advised railway project to some point 
on the coast of Hudson Bay is assured. 

Classifying the natural resources of the Hudson Bay dis- 
trict under the three great divisions of the Animal, Vege- 
table and Mineral kingdoms, I will begin with the first and 
briefly review the whole subject, dwelling chiefly upon such 
items as have come under my personal observation. 



I. Animal Products. 

By far the most valuable animal product is the Right, 
JBowhead or Oreenland Whale, which is found in the 
northern parts of Hudson Bay and Strait. It is the species 
from which the whalebone of commerce is derived, as well 
as a large amount of valuable oil. It is deeply to be re- 
gretted that these precious creatures are much less abundant 
than they were some years ago, but still they are well 
worth the looking after, as the commercial value of a single 
specimen ranges from ten to twenty thousand dollars, 
depending upon the size and consequent production of bone 
and oil. 

According to a statement contained in the report of Lieut. 
A. R. Gordon (1886), the average value of each whaling 
cargo from the year 1846 to 1875 was $47,220, and accord- 
ing to the report of A. P. Low (1904),. from information 
supplied by the noted American whaler. Captain George 
Cromer, the average value of a whaling cargo from Hudson 
Bay between the years 1891 and 1904 was about $35,000 — 
sixty-eight whales having been captured upon nineteen 
whaling voyages, all of which latter were American. 

Perhaps second in importance and value to the Eight 
AVhale fishery is that of the White Whale — a much smaller 
though a very much more abundant animal. In point of 
numbers I would judge that the white whale far exceeds all 
other species of water mammals combined, for in many 
places and at various times I have seen the surface of the 
bay appear as a living, plunging mass of white from the 
presence of great schools of these creatures ; nor do they 
appear to be appreciably diminishing, as some other animals 
are. I observed them in apparently as great numbers about 
tiie mouths of the Churchill and Nelson rivers in 1905 as I 
had in the same localities twenty years before, although 
large numbers of them are annually captured at various 



points by the Hudson's Bay Company, who find in them a 
profitable source of revenue — the oil and hide products of 
one animal being worth, on the average, abcfut thirty dollars. 

The Narwhal, or Sea Unicorn, is another valuable species 
of whale found in the northern parts of the bay and strait, 
but it is of comparatively rare occurrence. The remarkable 
feature about this animal is that it possesses a long, straight, 
spiral horn of very fine ivory, extending from the upper jaw 
directly ia line with the body. The length of the horn ia 
an adult male is frequently about eight feet, and in value 
it is worth from $2.50 to $3.00 per pound. 

The Walrus fishery probably ranks next in value to that 
of the white whale, for this, the largest species of the seal 
family, is abundant almost everywhere throughout the 
northern parts of Hudson Bay and Strait. In 1885-86 
I met with great numbers of them along the north shore of 
Hudson Strait, also in the vicinity of the Digges, the Ottawa 
and the Sleeper islands, about the sandy shores of which 
they delight to sport and feed upon the clams and other shell- 
fish, which they dig from the sand in the shallow waters 
with their long ivory tusks provided for this purpose. 
According to A. P. Low, the present southerly limit of the 
walrus is found at the Xorth Belcher Islands, in about lati- 
tude .57 degrees, although, as is the case with many other 
animals, its range was formerly much farther south. Mr. 
Low also reports that under persistent hunting, of late 
years, the number of these animals is being greatly dimin- 
ished, and such being the case it would seem to be most 
desirable that legal restrictions should be made to prevent 
the wholesale slaughter and ultimate extermination of these 
noble creatures, whose existence is almost essential to that 
of the native tribes of Eskimos. 

Since a walrus, like most other seals, sinks immediately 
when killed in the water, a very large percentage of those 
killed by existing methods of hunting are completelv lost> 



The harpoon and lance, with attached line and float, should 
therefore be the only implements used in the hunt for these 
animals. From a sportsman's point of view the walrus 
furnishes one of the grandest fields for sport upon this con- 
tinent. During my many years of travel through the wilds 
of northern Canada I have had occasion to hunt and kill 
most of the existing varieties of big game, but none that has 
afforded more real sport and excitement than the walrus. 
Upon one occasion, when in company with Dr. R. Bell and 
a boat's crew of eleven men in all, near the shore of the 
Digges Islands, we were suddenly confronted by a herd of 
about fifty walruses, all of them snorting and blowing and 
looking like so many water demons. 

Whether out of curiosity or upon mischief bent I know 
not, but with heads and shoulders above the water and their 
long, curved, ivory tusks gleaming in the sunlight, they 
charged straight for our position, and so terrified some of 
our Newfoundland sailors that they were with difficulty pre- 
vented from jumping overboard into the sea. We were not 
properly outfitted at the time for walrus hunting, being 
armed only with five Winchester rifles, but with these we 
opened a rapid fire and demoralized the band before any of 
them reached our boat. 

Many of them were killed, and sank in deep water before 
they could be secured, but to one we managed to make fast, 
and towed him to the shore — a shelving sandy beach. But 
when we undertook to haul him out of the water, we realized 
for the first time the enormity of his bulk and weight. 
Although eleven able-bodied men, we could not without 
" purchase " commence to pull the carcase from the water, 
and even with a parbuckle were only half successful. 

Later, during the spring of 1886, when stationed at Big 
Island, Hudson Strait, I fitted up my boat in proper shape 
with harpoons, lines, floats and lances for hunting these 
creatures, and for a short time pursued the avocation of a 



walrus hunter with success, using a rifle only to dispatch 
my victims after they had been secured by one or more har- 
poons with attached floats. The few hides that I procured 
at that time were sold in the English market for 6d. per 
pound, and this, I believe, is about the market price to-day. 
The weight of a single hide will average about two hundred 
and fifty pounds, and the ivory tusks, which weigh any- 
where from two to ten pounds, are worth about 75c. per 
pound. The oil derived from walrus blubber is of rather 
inferior quality, and therefore not of great value. The total 
marketable products of a single adult walrus will, therefore, 
be worth between $30.00 and $40.00. 

The Square-flipper, Bearded or Big Seal ranlts next in 
size to the walrus, being commonly about eight feet in 
length, and is widely distributed, though not very numerous. 
The hide is largely used by the Eskimos for the best grades 
of leather^ and the oil product also is of considerable value. 

The Harp or Saddlehach Seal is the species most com- 
monly found in great numbers off the banks of Newfound- 
land, but it is not frequently met Avith in Hudson Bay, 
though quite commonly in the strait. It is valuable for hide 
and oil products. 

The Ringed or Jar Seal, though the smallest, is the most 
common and abundant species found in Hudson Bay and 
adjacent waters. Its flesh, with that of the walrus and the 
reindeer, forms the chief food of the Eskimos, whilst its pelt 
is equally useful in the manufacture of tents and clothing. 
The hide and oil products of this seal would form valuable 
articles of commerce. 

The Harbor or Freshivater Seal is the fifth and last 
variety of this animal found in Hudson Bay or adjacent 
waters, and though not numerous, it is widely distributed. 
It is highly prized by the Eskimos because of its beautiful 
dark, rich furry coat, that of the young being soft and rich, 
somewhat like that of the fur seal. Unlike the other 



varieties, it frequents the fresh water, ascending rivers and 
being found in fresh water lakes of high elevation. 

The Polar Bear may be regarded in the animal world as 
the monarch of the Hudson Bay region. He is found almost 
as frequently in the water as upon the land, having a very 
wide range over which he roams throughout the year, fol- 
lowing the general movements of the seals and other animals 
upon which he preys. The female polar bear resorts to the 
shelter of some friendly snowbank during the winter 
months, and there gives birth to her young in the month of 
March ; but the males do not hibernate, preferring rather to 
take their chances of an occasional cold meal whilst roaming 
their solitary fields of ice and snow. I had occasion one 
winter to meet with Mr. Bruin when on his foraging rounds, 
but as I was armed with a good rifle, he furnished the meal, 
not i. Upon making an examination of the stomach of this 
bear, it was found to contain nothing but the droppings of 
reindeer. For miles he had followed the tracks of an 
Eskimo, but met with misfortune before overtaking his 

The skin of the polar bear forms a beautiful and valuable 
robe, whilst the blubber affords a fine grade of oil, but the 
chief value of the animal is as a prize for the sportsman. 

The Reindeer, or Caribou, of the Hudson Bay country is 
to-day what the buffalo was to the western plains thirty or 
forty years ago, the chief source of food to the natives; but 
as it has been described at considerable length in a former 
chapter of this book, no further mention of it need be made 

The Mitslc-ox is one of the noblest and most valuable ani- 
mals of the northern shores of Hudson Bay and adjacent 
territory. It is found in very considerable numbers and 
affords most luxurious robes. I have seen musk-ox robes 
stacked by the Eskimos like hay-cocks along the shore of 
Chesterfield Inlet, awaiting an opportunity to market them; 
16 241 


but as I have also devoted a chapter to this species I shall 
not make further reference to them. 

Woodland Caribou, Moose and Jumping Deer are found 
in more or less abundance throughout the timbered country 
about the southern parts of the bay ; so also are Black Bears, 
Wolves and Colored Foxes. Black and Bed as vi^ell as White 
Foxes are also commonly found in the country north of the 
timber line. I have seen several black foxes and about a 
thousand white ones trapped by a few Eskimos in Hudson 
Strait during one winter; and I have also seen and handled 
a single black foxskin which realized for its owner the sum 
of $1,600. 

Other fur-bearing animals which may be mentioned as 
products of the Hudson Bay country are, Otter, Beaver, 
Fisher, Mink, Martin, Ermine, Wolverine, Lynx and Wild 

Little definite information seems to be available regarding 
the varieties and abundance of fish in Hudson Bay and 
Strait, but certain it is that some of the finest fish I have 
ever seen or eaten have come from those waters. From my 
own personal knowledge I can vouch for the following 
species : 

Salmon of the very finest quality are found in abundance 
both in Hudson Bay and Strait. I have several times pro- 
cured them from the Eskimos, and can testify as to their 
superior quality. 

Lake Trout are found in all the streams and lakes tribu- 
tary to the bay. 

Sturgeon are plentiful in the Nelson and some other 
rivers flowing into the bay. 

Whitefish are caught in the mouths of several of the rivers 
by the Hudson's Bay Company, and salted in barrels for 



Cod have been found at a number of points in the north- 
em parts of the bay and strait, and in Ungava Bay of late 
years a most successful cod fishery has been carried on by 
Senator Blanchard, a progressive and wealthy Newfound- 
lander. The senator informed me that his newly established 
Ungava Bay fishery had exceeded his best expectations. 

Doubtless other varieties of deep-water fish will be found 
when properly fished for, but as yet this has not been done, 
so far as I am aware. 

Of feathered game there is a great abundance, particu- 
larly of waterfowl, the most important of which are: Brant, 
Hutchins and Snowy Geese, Northern, American and King 
Eiders, Squaw Ducks, Swans, Loons, Murres, Guillemots 
and many other sea fowls. In many places I have seen 
geese in such numbers that they could be killed by hundreds 
with sticks. Ptarmigan, also, are found in great numbers in 
many places in the open country. They are commonly 
caught by the natives with nets, and form a staple article of 

XL Vegetable Products. 

Under this heading, in the northern parts of the Hudson 
Bay territory, we can count upon nothing for export, 
although in the valleys of the Thelon and some other rivers 
there are valuable belts of spruce and tamarack timber for 
local supply when required. Nearly all of the southern 
part of the territory south of latitude 58 degrees is, how- 
ever, more or less heavily wooded with White and Blade 
Spruce, Tamarack, Poplar, Birch, Pine, Balsam, Cedar, 
Elm and Ash, here given in order of their abundance. 

Very large quantities of milling timber are found in the 
valleys of all the large rivers emptying into the southern 
shores of Hudson and James bays, whilst the available 
supply of pulpwood is almost unlimited. 

Agricultural development is not to be expected anywhere 



in the northern parts of the district, bijt throughout the 
more southerly wooded portions there, are great possibilities 
in this direction. At Fort Churchill I have seen a few 
hardy garden vegetables, grown for local use, but at York,- 
120 miles farther south, many varieties grow luxuriantly; 
and I believe that at Moose. Factory and other southern 
points almost all kinds of farm produce have been raised 
successfully. Eeyond a doubt, there are millions of acres 
of agricultural lands between the shores of the bay and the 
height of land to the south of it. 

III. Mineral Products. 

Of these little can yet be said excepting as to prospects. 
Many valuable minerals have been sighted in various parts 
of the territory; but as yet no systematic prospecting has 
been undertaken, and with few exceptions, therefore, no 
reliable information is available as to qualities or quantities 
of minerals discovered. 

Iron Ores are known to occur in several localities, notably 
along the east main coast and the adjoining islands on the 
west coast of Ungava Bay, also on the south shore of Hudson 
Strait and upon the Mattagami River. 

Oalena is known to exist in workable quantities at Rich- 
mond Grulf and Little Whale River, a few tons of ore having 
been mined near the Hudson's Bay Company's post at the 
latter place. Dr. Bell reports assays of two samples of this 
ore as yielding 5.104 and 12.03 ounces of silver to the ton. 

Oold and Silver are also reported by Dr. Bell to have been 
found in small quantities upon the east main coast, near 
Great Whale River and Dog Island; also on the west coast 
south of Rankin Inlet, where a large area of the Huronian 
or Keewatin schists occurs. Again, both metals were dis- 
covered in small quantities in samples obtained by the 
Doctor from one of the most northerly of the Ottawa Islands. 



Molybdenum ' is re^oTtei to have been found upon the 
east main coast. 

Copper has been discdvei'ed'both on the east and the west 
coasts, though in 'Unknown quantity. 

Lignite is I'ep'orted to have been discovered on the Mis- 
siilaibi River, Oypsum on the Moose, and Petroleum-bear- 
ing limestone on the Abittibi; 

Good qualities of building stone are available on both the 
east and west shores bf the bay. Large quantities of soap- 
stone occur at Mosquito Bay, on the east coast, and abun- 
dance of Mica has been discovered in Chesterfield Inlet, 
Eastmain and Lake Hafbor, a mine being now profitably 
worked by a Scotch whaler at the latter place, not far f fom 
where I spent the wintefof 1885-86. Mr. Low reports that 
in 1904 thirteen tons of excellent mica were taken from thig 
mine! ' ' ' 

Graphite has been found on the east shore of Ilngaya Bay, 
in White Strait, and near Cape Wolstenholme. 

This concludes my brief outline of the resources of the 
Hudsoti Bay district; but T think tbe facts pointed out are 
sufficient to support in the very strongest manner any well- 
advised scheme to open lap thb territory either by rail or 
sfeamboat transportation, orbb'th. 

' ' NAviGATioirJOB THE Bay AND Steaits.' ' 

In dealing with this subject I am not unmindful that I 
am broaching one which has been under serious considera- 
tion and investigation for the past twenty-five years, so far 
without definite results; but as my opportunities for observ- 
ing actual conditions have , been large, I may be able to 
throw some additional flight upon the question. Besides, 
having carefully perused the, various reports of those . who 
have made a study of the question, I have personally made 
six voyages across t)ie , bay^ and have passed . four times. 



through the strait, and spent one winter in it upon Big 

I assume that the prime motive in opening up a route for 
commerce through Hudson Bay and Strait is already well 
understood, viz., to provide the best and the mvich-needed 
additional transportation facilities for the large and ever- 
increasing produce of Western Canada. As compared with 
present shipping roiites to Europe, the distance from Fort 
Churchill to Liverpool is almost identical with that from 
Montreal to Liverpool by way of Cape Eace, whilst the 
distance from a central point, such as Prince Albert, to 
Churchill is more than twelve hundred miles less than to 
Montreal. From Regina to Churchill the saving in rail 
travel would amount to over one thousand miles, and 
from Edmonton it would amount to more than eleven hun- 
dred. Surely the simple statement of these facts alone 
forms the strongest possible argument in favor of railway 
connection between Fort Churchill and the railway systems 
of the Western Provinces. 

I mention Fort Churchill only as the terminal point, since 
it is beyond all question the most advantageous port on the 
west coast of the bay. 'No unusual difficulties would be met 
with in the construction of such a road, for during the sum- 
mer of 1905 it was my privilege to explore a proposed route 
from Prince Albert to Churchill, and I found it entirely 
feasible. A year later several other explorers covered the 
same route in the interests of the Canadian Northern Rail- 
way, and they have also reported quite favorably upon the 
project. It remains for us, therefore, to consider only the 
feasibility of steamboat navigation on the bay and strait. 

In this connection we will first consider the harbor ques- 
tion, and the length of season for which it is available. Aa 
shown by my map and contours thereon, Churchill harbor is 
an excellent one, possessing good anchorage in from four to 
nine' fathoms of water at low tide, and the area al this depth 



may be greatly extended at small cost if more space is 

From records of the Hudson's Bay Company, extending 
back for a great number of years, the average dates of the 
opening and closing of Churchill Harbor are the 19th of 
June and the ISth of November, making the length of open 
season exactly five months. The earliest recorded date of 
opening was the 5th of June, 1863, and the latest the 2nd 
of July, 1866. The earliest date of closing was the 1st of 
November, 1837, and the latest the -tth of December, 1885, 
These dates, of course, represent the times of the ice first 
running out and again setting fast — without any reference 
to the reappearance of drift-ice, from which source some 
trouble may be experienced during the early summer — 
but we may quite safely count upon the free and unob- 
structed use of Churchill Harbor for the four months of 
July, August, September and October. 

I am of opinion that little difiiculty would be experi- 
enced in keeping the harbor open during the greater part 
of November, and with the use of ice-breakers it could, if 
necessary, be kept open throughout the winter. 

The strong tidal and river currents in the harbor are nat- 
ural features which assist very materially in the breaking 
up and clearing out of the ice. Outside of the harbor a 
belt of shore-ice forms during the winter season, but 
beyond this the bay is never frozen, and may be freely 
navigated at all seasons of the year. Outside of the harbors, 
the only difficulties to navigation occur in Hudson Strait, 
where at three points the channel is contracted to forty or 
forty-five miles in width. The first of these points, count- 
ing from the west, is at the south of Nottingham Island, 
and here ice-jams are frequently met with during the early 
part of the summer and late in the fall; but by careful 
observation of the wind and tidal currents these obstructions 
may often be avoided by passing either to the north of Not- 



tingham or to the south of the Digges Islands, between whieh 
and the mainland at Cape Wolstenholme there is deep water. 
The prevailing direction of the movement of the ice at this 
locality is from the north, so that it frequently happens that 
though drift-ice may be hard ashore on the north side of 
Nottingham, there is open water to the south of it. The 
extreme sluggishness of the magnetic compass is also a 
source of difficulty to the mariner in this quarter, but the 
establishment of lights and bell-buoys would largely over- 
come this. 

The next point where difficulties in navigation are likely 
to be encountered is about half way through the strait, at 
or south of Big Island. Here there is a strong prevailing 
set of current to the west along the north shore and to the 
east along the south shore, and these facts require to be care- 
fully regarded by the navigator, as also the direction of the 
prevailing winds, which very largely control the position of 
any drifting ice that may be in those waters. 

It is notable that during the systematic taking of observa- 
tions on both sides of the strait in 1885-86, when " ice " was 
observed upon the one side " open water " was the rule upon 
the other, and vice versa. The most advantageous channel 
would therefore seem to be fairly central, inclining to the 
north or south, depending upon whether the wind is 
northerly or southerly. 

The third point of contraction is at the eastern entrance 
to the strait, betAveen Eesolution and the Button islands, and 
to this locality the above observations regarding currents and 
wind apply with equal force. 

We cannot get away from the fact that a considerable 
quantity of drifting field-ice is likely to be encountered in 
the strait throughout the month of July, and of course 
earlier; but by that time it is found to be so broken and 
softened by the action of the weather and water as to be of 
little danger to ships — which, vdth average steam power and 



suitably arranged propellers with attachable blades, will be 
able to force their way through. 

As to the occurrence of fog in Hudson Strait, a compari- 
son of carefully kept observations shows less than one-third 
the number of hours that are recorded in the Straits of Belle 

As to icebergs, they are occasionally met with in Hudson 
Strait, being sometimes carried in along the north shore by 
the prevailing current from Davis Strait, but they are by no 
means of frequent occurrence, and not one-tenth as numer- 
ous as off the Straits of Belle Isle. 

The strait can, in my opinion, be relied upon for unob- 
structed navigation from the 15th of July to the 1st of 
November, with a possible extension of two weeks at either 

In looking through a volume of the European Magazine 
and London Beview for the year 1797 — one of the many 
rare old volumes in the Toronto Public Library — ^the writer 
was interested to notice, in a brief sketch of Fort Prince of 
Wales, in the June number of that year, the following refer- 
ence to the navigation of Hudson Bay : " The ships em- 
ployed in the trade pass the Straits the beginning of August 
and return in September. The navigation is very safe, not 
a ship being lost in twenty years. It is supposed that were 
the trade to be laid open, the exports thither might be ex- 
ceedingly enlarged." 

In conclusion, I would say that the proposition to open 
up a route for commerce through Hudson. Bay and Strait 
is, in my opinion, a wise and perfectly feasible move, both 
because of the service it will render in developiilg the local 
resources of the country, and because of the additional 
transportation facilities it will afford for the products of 
Western Canada. 

I am indebted to Mr. Charles Mair, of Lethbridge, our 
distinguished western poet, and author of the recently pub- 



lished and very interesting and valuable narrative of the 
Government Treaty Expedition of 1899 through the Peace 
and Athabasca river valleys,* for permission to insert here 
his noble poem, " Open the Bay," an eloquent and effective 
protest against the efforts of certain affected interests to 
cultivate the idea that navigation of Hudson Strait is 


Open the Bay, which o'er the Northland broods, 

Dumb, yet In labor with a mighty fate! 
Open the Bay! Humanity intrudes, 
And gropes, prophetic, round its solitudes. 
In eager thought, and will no longer wait. 

Open the Bay which Cabot first espied 

In days when tiny bark and pinnace bore 
Stout pilots and brave captains true and tried — 
Those dauntless souls who battled far and wide. 

With wind and wave in the great days of yore. 

Open the Bay which Hudson — doubly crowned 
By fame — to science and to history gave. 

This was his limit, this his utmost bound — 

Here, all unwittingly, he sailed and found, 
At once, a path of empire and a grave. 

Open the Bay! What cared that seaman grim 

For towering iceberg or the crashing floe? 
He sped at noonday or at midnight dim, 
A man! and, hence, there was a way for him. 
And where he went a thousand ships can go. 

Open the Bay! the myriad prairies call; 

Let homesteads rise and comforts multiply; 
Give to the world the shortest route of all, 
Let justice triumph though the heavens should fall! 

This is the voice of reason — manhood's cry. 

•" Through the Mackenzie Basin," William Briggs, Toronto, 1908. 



Open the Bay! Who are they that say "No"? 

Who locks the portals? Nature? She resigned 
Her icy reign, her stubborn frost and snow. 
Her sovereign sway and sceptre, long ago, 

To sturdy manhood and the master. Mind; 

Not these the foe! Not Nature, who is fain 

When earnest hearts an earnest end pursue; 
But man's old selfishness and greed of gain: 
These ancient breeders of earth's sin and pain — 
These are the thieves who steal the Nation's due! 

Such are the heirs of traders Gillam led — 

Such were they in the past, with souls obtuse 
When duty called — who, recreant, and dead 
To England's honor, hung the craven head. 
And struck the British flag to La Perouse. 

And such are they who, in their Eastern place. 

Say, " It is folly and the purpose vain!" 
The carrier and the shallow huckster's race — 
Theirs are the hands, not Nature's which efface. 
And seal the public good for private gain. 

Open the Bay! Let Earth's poor people in! 

What though the selfish interests lie and flout — 
Open the Inlet! Let them growl and grin. 
And Power still hobnob with them in their sin — 

Humanity, their master, is about! 

It looks abroad, and with purged vision sees 
Man's wily nature bared, not overcast; 

It comes to scatter to the winds his pleas. 

His privilege and bland accessories. 
And with strong arm right the wronged land at last. 












Collected by J. W. Ttrbell, C.E., D.L.S., 

in 1893, along the line of route between Lake Athabasca and the 
west coast ot Hudson Bay; with which is incorporated a small 
collection made in 1885 at Ashe Inlet, on the north shore of Hudson 
Strait, and a collection made by Miss Marjorle Lofthouse at Port 

The species collected from the Barren Lands are marked B; 
those from the forest country south of the Barren Lands, or in 
isolated groves of timber on the banks of the river, north of the 
general limit of the forest, are marked W. Any species collected 
both from the woods and from the Barren Lands are marked 
W.B., or B.W., according to whether they are woodland species 
extending into the Barren Lands, or Arctic species extending south 
into the forest. 

Determined by Professor John Macoun, M.A. 


1. Anemone patens, L., var. NuttalUana, Gray. — TV. 

Port Chipewyan, Lake Athabasca, June 19. 

2. Anemone parvifiora, Michx. — W.B. 

North shore of Lake Athabasca. Limestone Island, in Nichol- 
son Lake, and the west shore of Hudson Bay at Port 

3. Anemone Rieliardsomi, Hook. — W. 

Dubawnt River, just below Daly Lake. 

4. Anemone muUiflda, Polr. — W. 

Woodcock Portage, on Stone River. 

5. Ranunculus afflnis, R. Br. — B. 

Barlow Lake, Dubawnt River. Dubawnt River, between 
Schultz and Baker lakes. South shore of Chesterfield Inlet, 
near its mouth. Port Churchill. 



6. Ranunculus Lapponicus, L. — B. 

West shore of Dubawnt Lake, near the mouth of Dubawnt 

7. Ranunculus hyperioreus, Rottb. — W. 

Dubawnt River, just below Daly Lake. 


8. Papaver nudicaule, L. — B. 

Dubawnt River, between Schultz and Baker lakes. 
This species was also collected at Ashe Inlet, on the north 
shore of Hudson Strait, in 1885. 


9. Corydalis glauca, Pursh. — W. 

North-west and north shores of Lake Athabasca. Esker, near 
the Narrows of Daly Lake. 

10. Corydalis aurea, Willd. — W. 

Rocky Island, on the north side of Lake Athabasca, west of 
Fond du Lac. 


11. Cardamine pratensis, L., var. angustifolia. — B. 

Island near the centre of Boyd Lake. Limestone Island, in 
Nicholson Lake. Port Churchill. 

12. Araiis lyrata, L. — W. 

North shore of Lake Athabasca. 

13. AraMs humifusa, var. puiescens, Wat. — W. 

North-west angle of Lake Athabasca. Esker, near the Narrows 
of Daly Lake. 

This species had not previously been found west of Hudson Bay. 

14. Barbarea vulgaris, R. Br. — W. 

Cracking Stone Point, north shore of Lake Athabasca. Red 
Hill, on the west shore of Hinde Lake. 

15. Sisymbrium Uumile, C. A. Meyer. — W. 

Fort Chipewyan, Lake Athabasca. 


16. Cardamine digitata. Rich. — B. 

Loudon Rapids, above forks of Dubawnt River. Mouth of 
Chesterfield Inlet. 

Not found elsewhere since It was collected by Sir John Rich- 
ardson near the mouth of the Coppermine River. 

17. Draba hirta, L. — B. 

Limestone Island, Nicholson Lake. Loudon Rapids, above the 
forks of Dubawnt River. Also at Ashe Inlet, on the north 
shore of Hudson Strait. 

18. Draia incana, L. — B. 

Loudon Rapids, above the forks of Dubawnt River. Fort 
Churchill, on the west coast of Hudson Bay. 

19. Draia nemorosa, L., var. Jeiocarpa, Lindb. — W. 

Fond du Lac. Lake Athabasca. 

20. Draba stellata, Jacq. — B. 

North-west shore of Dubawnt Lake. 

21. Cochlearia offlcinalis, L. — B. 

Mouth of Chesterfield InJet. 

22. Eutrema Edwardsii, R. Br. — B. 

North-west shore of Dubawnt Lake. 

23. Tfasturtium palustre, D. C. — W. 

Fond du Lac, Lake Athabasca. 


24. Ttolo palustris, L.- — W. 

East and north shores of Carey Lake. 

These are the most northern localities in Canada where this 
species has been found. 

25. Viola canina, L., var. Sylvestris, Regel. — W. 

Fond du Lac, Lake Athabasca. South end of Daly Lake. 


26. Silene acauUs, L. — B. 

Dubawnt Lake, west shore. North end of Wharton Lake. Also 
at Ashe Inlet, on Hudson Strait. 



27. Lychnis apetala, L. — B. 

Moutli of Chesterfield Inlet. 

28. Lychnis afflnis, Vahl. — B. 

Dubawnt Lake, norti-west shore. 

29. Arenaria lateriflora, L. — W. 

Near the south end of Daly Lake. 

30. Arenaria peploides, L. — B. 

Ashe Inlet, on the north side of Hudson Strait. 

31. Stellaria longipes, Goldie. — B. W. 

Barlow Lake. Carey Lake. Wharton Lake, Dubawnt Lake, 
west shore. Loudon Rapids, above the forks of Dubawnt 
River. Fort Churchill. 

32. Stellaria longipes, Goldie, var. Iwta, Wats. — B. 

Barlow Lake and Limestone Island, in Nicholson Lake. 

33. Stellaria iorealis, Bigel. — W. 

Red Hill, on the west shore of Hinde Lake. 

34. Gerastium alpinvvi, L. — B. 

Limestone Island, in Nicholson Lake. Wharton Lake. Loudon 
Rapids, above the forks of Dubawnt River. Dubawnt River, 
between Schultz and Baker lakes. Mouth of Chesterfield 
Inlet. Fort Churchill. Ashe Inlet, on the north shore of 
Hudson Strait. 


35. Geranium Carolineanum, L. — W. 

North shore of Lake Athabasca, a short distance west of Fond 
du Lac. 


36. Acer spieatum, Lam. — W. 

Fort Chlpewyan, I<ake Athabasca. 

This is the most northerly locality in Canada from which this 
species has been recorded. 




37. Astragalus alpinus, L. — W. 

North shore of Lake Athabasca at Fond du Lac, and near Big 
Fowl Island. Esker, near the Narrows of Daly Lake. 

38. Spiesia (Oxytropis) Belli, Britt. — B. 

Loudon Rapids, above the forks of Dubawnt River. Mouth of 
Chesterfield Inlet. 

The only other locality from which this species has been col- 
lected is Digges Island, Hudson Bay, where it was found by 
Dr. Bell in 1884. It was described by Mr. Britten in 1894 
from the specimens collected at the second and third of the 
above localities. 

39. Oxytropis campestris, L., var. cwrulea, Koch. — B. 

Ashe Inlet, on the north shore of Hudson Strait. 

40. Oxytropis leucantha, Pers. — B. 

Dubawnt River, between Schultz and Baker lakes. Mouth of 
Chesterfield Inlet. Fort Churchill. 

41. Hedysarum horeale, Nutt. — B. 

Loudon Rapids, above the forks of Dubawnt River. 

42. Hedysarum Mackenzii, Richard, L.-^B. W. 

Fort Churchill. Ashe Inlet, on the north shore of Hudson 


43. Pninus Pennsylvanica. L. — W. 

North-west angle of Lake Athabasca. Esker, near Narrows of 
Daly Lake. 

44. Rubus chamoBTnorus, L. — W. B. 

Fort Churchill. Common in swampy places from Lake Atha- 
basca northward to the edge of the woods. Grove on the 
north shore of Carey Lake, and at Lioudon Rapids, near the 
forks of Dubawnt River. It was also found at Ashe Inlet, on 
the north shore of Hudson Strait. 

45. Ruius articus, L., var. grandifiorus, Lebeb. — W. 

North shore of Lake Athabasca. Barlow Lake. North shore 
of Carey Lake. Fort Churchill. 

17 257 


46. Rubus strigosus, Michx. — W. 

Banks of Stone River. In an isolated grove of white spruce on 

the north shore of Carey Lake. 
The last-mentioned would seem to have been an isolated 

locality, at some considerable distance north of Its general 

northern limit. 

47. Dryas integrifoUa, Vahl. — B. 

Carey Lake. Limestone Island, in Nicholson Lake. West 
shore of Dubawnt Lake. Loudon Rapids, above the forks 
of Dubawnt River. Fort Churchill. Ashe Inlet, on the 
north shore of Hudson Strait. 

48. Fragaria Canadensis, Michx. — W. 

North shore of Lake Athabasca and Woodcock Portage, on 

Stone River. 
This species, which has usually been confounded with F. Vir- 

giniana, was also collected in the same year by Miss Taylor 

at Fort Smith, on Slave River. 

49. Potentilla Norvegica, L. — W. 

Woodcock Portage, on Stone River. Red Hill, on the vfest 
shore of Hinde Lake. 

50. Potentilla nivea, L. — B. 

Dubawnt River, between Schultz and Baker lakes. Mouth of 
Chesterfield Inlet. Fort Churchill. 

51. Potentilla palustris, Scop. — W. 

Stony flats on the banks of Dubawnt River, just below Daly 

52. Potentilla fruticosa, L. — W. 

North shore of Lake Athabasca, a little distance west of Fond 
du Lac. 

53. Potentilla nana, Willd. — B. 

Shore of Hudson Bay, north of Marble Island. Ashe Inlet, on 
the north shore of Hudson Strait. 

54. Potentilla tridentata, Solander. — W. 

Woodcock Portage, Stone River. 

55. AmelancMer alnifolia, Nutt. — W. 

North-west angle. Lake Athabasca. 




56. Saxifraga oppositifolia, L. — B. 

Dubawnt River, between Schultz and Baker lakes. Mouth of 
Chesterfield Inlet. Ashe Inlet, on the north shore of Hudson 

57. Saxifraga cwspitosa, L. — B. 

Dubawnt River, between Schultz and Baker lakes. Mouth of 
Chesterfield Inlet. Ashe Inlet. 

58. Saxifraga rivularis, L. — B. 

Loudon Rapids, above the forks of Dubawnt River. Ashe Inlet. 

59. Saxifraga cernua. L. — B. 

North-west shore of Dubawnt Lake. Loudon Rapids, above the 
forks of Dubawnt River. Dubawnt River, between Schultz 
and Baker lakes. Mouth of Chesterfield Inlet. Fort Churchill. 

60. Saxifraga nivalis, L. — B. 

Mouth of Chesterfield Inlet. 

61. Saxifraga hieracifolia, Waldst and Kit. — B. 

North shore of Dubawnt Lake. 

62. Saxifraga punctata, L. — B. 

North-west shore of Dubawnt Lake. 

This species had not previously been recorded east of the 
Rocky Mountains. 

63. Saxifraga Hirculus, L. — B. 

Xorth-west shore of Dubawnt Lake. 

64. Saxifraga tricuspidata, Retz. — B. TT. 

Fort Chipewyan, Lake Athabasca. North shore of Carey 

Lake. Wharton Lake. Loudon Rapids, above the forks of 

Dubawnt River. Mouth of Chesterfield Inlet. Ashe Inlet. 

65. Chrysosplenium alternifolium, L. — B. 

Limestone Island, Nicholson Lake. 

66. Parnassia Eotzebuei, Cham, and Schl. — W. 

South end of Daly Lake. 

67. Parnassia palustris, L. — TV. 

Fort Churchill. 



68. Ribes oxydcanthoides, L. — W. 

North shore of Lake Athabasca, near Pond du Lac. 

69. Ribes rubrum, L. — W. 

Fort Chlpewyan, Lake Athabasca. 

70. Ribes Hudsonianum, Richards. — W. 

Fort Chlpewyan, Lake Athabasca. 

71. Ribes proatratum, L'Her. — W. 

North shore of Lake Athabasca. Bsker, near the Narrows of 
Daly Lake. Bast and north shores of Carey Lake. 


72. Hippuris vulgaris, L. — B. 

Mouth of ChesflSrfleld Inlet. 

73. Hippuris maritima, L. — B. W. 

Red Hill, on the shore of Hlnde Lake. Mouth of Chesterfield 


74. EpilvMum angusHfoUum, L. — W. B. 

Esker, near the Narrows of Daly Lake. Ashe Inlet, Hudson 

These localities probably mark the northern range of this 

75. Epilobium latifoUum, L. — B. 

West shore of Dubawnt Lake. Loudon Rapids, above the 
forks of Dubawnt River, where the flowers were just appear- 
ing on August 25. Fort Churchill. Ashe Inlet. 

76. Epilobium lineare. Gray. — B. 

Red Hill, on the shore of Hinde Lake. Mouth of Chesterfield 

77. Cornus Canadeagis, L. — W. 

North shore ot Lake Athabasca. South end of Daly Lake 



7S. Vihurnum pauciflorum, Pylale. — W. 

North shore of Lake Athabasca. Esker, near the Narrows of 
Daly Lake. 

79. Linnwa torealis, Gronov. — W. 

Elizabeth Rapids, Stone River. Esker, near the Narrows of 
Daly Lake. North shore of Carey Lake. Fort Churchill. 


80. Gflltum trifidum, L. — ^Tl'. 

Red Hill, on the shore of Hinde Lake. 


51. Erigeron uniflorus, L. — B. 

Loudon Rapids, above the forks of Dubawnt River. 

52. Erigeron eriocephalus, J. Vfihl. — B. 

North end of Wharton Lake. 

83. Antennaria alpina, G«rtn. — B. 

West shore of Dubawnt Lake. 

84. Achillcca miTlefoliuvK L., var. nigrescens, L. — W.B. 

Woodcock Portage, Stone River. Fort Churchill. Ashe Inlet 

55. Matricaria inodora, L.. var. nana. Hook. — W. 

Fort Churchill. 

56. Artemisia borealis. Pall., var. Wormskioldit, Bess. — B. W. 

Dubawnt River, just below Daly Lake, and east end of 
Aberdeen Lake. 

87. Petasites palmata. Gray. — W. 

Fond du Lac, lAke Athabasca. 

88. Petasites sagittata. Gray. — B. 

Limestone Island, Nicholson Lake. Ashe Inlet, Hudson Strait. 


89. Arnica alpina, Olin. — B. W. 

North shore of Lake Athabasca. Esker, near Narrows of Daly 
Lake. West shore of Dubawnt Lake. Loudon Rapids, above 
the forks of Dubawnt River. Fort Churchill. Ashe Inlet. 

90. Senecio palustris, Hook., var. congesta. Hook. — B. 

West shore of Dubawnt Lake. Fort Churchill. Ashe Inlet. 

91. Senecio aureus, L., var. iorealis, Tor. and Gr. — B. 

Limestone Island, in Nicholson Lake. 

92. Senecio aureus, L., var. talsamitae. Tor. and Gr. — W. 

Fort Churchill. 

93. Saussurea alpina. Hook. — B. 

North end of Wharton Lake. 

94. Taraxacum officinale, Weber, var. alpinum, Koch. — B. 

Loudon Rapids, above the forks of Dubawnt River. Mouth of 
Chesterfield Inlet. Fort Churchill. 


95. Campanula uniflora, L. — B. 

Loudon Rapids, above the forks of Dubawnt River. 


96. Vaccinium Canadense, Kalm. — W. 

South end of Daly Lake. 

97. Vaccinium uliginosum, L. — W. B. 

North shore of Lake Athabasca. Dubawnt River, just below 
Daly Lake. Carey Lake. Dubawnt Lake. Loudon Rapids, 
above forks of Dubawnt River. Fort Churchill. 

98. Vaccinium Vitis-Idoea, L. — W. B. 

North shore of Lake Athabasca. Daly Lake. Dubawnt Lake. 
Loudon Rapids, above the forks of Dubawnt River Fort 

While both this and the preceding species extend for a con- 
siderable distance into the Barren Lands, the bushes are 
small and bear very little fruit. 



99. Oxycoccus vulgaris, Pursh. — W. 

Esker, near the middle of Daly Lake, and stony banks of 
Dubawnt Riyer, just below the lake. 


100. Arctostaphylos aJpina, Spreng. — B. W. 

Island near the middle of Boyd Lake. Dubawnt River, 
between Schultz and Baker lakes. Mouth of Chesterfield 
Inlet. Fort Churchill. Ashe Inlet, Hudson Strait. 

In 1904 the most southern locality at which this species was 
observed was on the hill south of Kasha Lake. In 1896 it 
was seen in the swamp at Cross Portage, north of Seepiwisk 
Lake. In 1896, Nelson River. — J. B. T. 

101. Arctostaphylos Uva-ursi, Spreng. — W. 

North to the edge of Barren Lands. 

102. Cassandra calyculata, Don. — W. 

North-west shore. Lake Athabasca. South end of Selwyn 

103. Cassiope tetragona, Don. — B. 

Shores of Dubawnt Lake. Dubawnt River, between Schultz 
and Baker lakes. Mouth of Chesterfield Inlet. 

This is one of the plants most commonly used for fuel by 
those travelling in the Barren Lands. 

104. Andromeda polifolia, L. — TV. B. 

North shore of Athabasca Lake. South end of Selwyn Lake. 
Esker, near the middle of Daly Lake. West shore of 
Dubawnt Lake. Fort Churchill. 

105. Loiseleuria procumbens, Desf. — B. 

Boyd Lake. 

106. Bryanthus taxifolius. Gray. — B. 

London Rapids, above forks of Dubawnt River. 

107. Kalmia glauca. Ait. — W. 

Fond du Lac, Lake Atliabasca. Esker, near middle of Daly 

108. Ledum, latifolium, Ait. — W. 

North shore of Lake Athabasca. Daly Lake. 

Farther north it is replaced by the next following species. 



109. Ledum palustre, L. — B. W. 

South end of Daly Lake. Carey Lake. Shores of Dubawnt 
Lake. Wharton Lake. Loudon Rapids, above forks of 
Dubawnt River. Mouth of Chesterfield Inlet. Fort 

110. Rhodendron Lapponicum, Wahl. — B. 

Limestone Island, Nicholson Lake. Shores of Dubawnt Lake. 
Fort Churchill. 

111. Pyrola minor, L. — W. 

Red Hill, on the shore of Hlnde Lake. 

112. Pyrola secunda, L., var. pumila, Gray. — W. B. 

North shore of Carey Lake. Loudon Rapids, above the forks 

of Dubawnt River. 
This is the most northerly point at which this species was 


113. Pyrola rotundifolia, L., var. pumila, Hook. — B. W. 

North shore of Lake Athabasca. Carey Lake. Wharton Lake. 
Loudon Rapids, on Dubawnt River. Fort Churchill. Ashe 


114. Armeria vulgaris, Willd. — B. 

West shore of Dubawnt Lake. Loudon Rapids, above the 
forks of Dubawnt River. Mouth of Chesterfield Inlet. 


115. Primula Mistassinica, Michx. — W. 

North shore of Lake Athabasca. Fort Churchill. 

116. Trientalis Americana, Pursh. — W. 

Elizabeth Falls, Stone River. 

117. Androsace septentrionalis, L. — W. 

Fort Churchill. 


118. Menyanthes trifoliata, L. — W. 

Woodcock Portage, Stone River. 



119. Phacelia Franklinii, Gray. — W. 

North shore of Lake Athahasca. Woodcock Portage, on Stone 


120. Castillea pallidal, Kunth. — B. 

Limestone Island, In Nicholson Lake. Shore of Dubawnt 
Lake. Loudon Rapids, above the forks of Dubawnt River. 

121. Pedicularis Lapponica. L. — B. 

Mouth of Chesterfield Inlet. Ashe Inlet, on Hudson Strait. 

122. Pedicularis eupUrasioides, Stephan. — B. W. 

Esker, near the middle of Daly Lake. North shore of Carey 
Lake. Loudon Rapids, above the forks of Dubawnt River. 
Fort Churchill. 

123. Pedicularis Mrsuta, L. — B. 

Limestone Island, in Nicholson Lake. West shore of Dubawnt 
Lake. Loudon Rapids. 

124. Pedicularis flammea. — B. 

Limestone Island, in Nicholson Lake. 

125. Pedicularis capitata, Adams. — B. 

East shore of Carey Lake. 

126. Bartsia alpina, L. — W. 

Fort Churchill. 


127. Pinguicula villosa, L. — W. 

Daly Lake. Boyd Lake. 

128. Pinguicula vulgaris, L. — W. 

Carey Lake. Fort Churchill. 



129. Polygonum viviparum, L. — B. 

Limestone Island, in Nicholson Lake. West shore of Duhawnt 
Lake. Loudon Rapids, above the forks of Dubaunt River. 

These are among the most northerly localities at which these 
species have been found in Canada. 

130. Oxyria digyna, Campdera. — B. 

Mouth of Chesterfield Inlet. 

Ashe Inlet, on the north shore of Hudson Strait. 


131. Myrica Gale, L. — W. 

North-west angle of Lake Athabasca. 


132. Betula papyrifera, Michx. — W. 

North shore of Lake Athabasca. 

Daly Lake. 

The Indians make their canoes from the bark of this tree. 
Trees sulBciently large for canoes were seen as far north 
as the north end of Selwyn Lake and the northern bend of 
Cochrane River. From these places northward it gradually 
decreases in size, until it disappears at about the northern 
limit of the forest. 

133. Betula pumila, L. 

Red Hill, on the west shore of Hinde Lake. 
Boyd Lake. 

134. Betula glandulosa, Michx. 

Daly Lake. 

Loudon Rapids, above the forks of Dubawnt River. 
Dubawnt River, between Schultz and Baker lakes. 
Fairly common. Is a small shrub on the Barren Lands as far 
north as Ferguson River. — J. B. T. 

135. Alnus viridis, D.C. — W. 

Carey Lake. Quartzite Lake, on Ferguson River. 



136. Salix petiolaris, Smith. — W. 

North-west shore, Lake Athabasca. 

137. Salix desertorum. — W. 

North shore of Lake Athabasca. 

138. Salix Brownii, Bebb. — W. B. 

North shore of Lake Athabasca. 
North-west shore of Dubawnt Lake. 
Ashe Inlet, Hudson Strait. 

139. Salix Richardsonii, Hook. — B. 

Mouth of Chesterfield Jnlet. 

Not previously recorded from the vicinity of Hudson Bay. 

140. Salix reticulata, L. — B. 

Limestone Island, in Nicholson Lake. 

Loudon Rapids, above the forks of Dubawnt River. 

141. Salix herbacea, L. — W. B. 

Esker, near the middle of Daly Lake. 

Mouth of Chesterfield Inlet. 

Ashe Inlet, on the north side of Hudson Strait. 

142. Salix rostrata, Rich. — W. 

North shore of Lake Athabasca. 
Elizabeth Rapids, Stone River. 

143. Salix speciosa, Hook, and Am. — B. 

Mouth of Chesterfield Inlet. 

144. Salix glauca, L., var. villosa, And. — B. 

Dubawnt River, between Schultz and Baker lakes. 

145. Salix pUyllicifolia, L. — B. 

Shore of Dubawnt Lake. 

Dubawnt River, between Schultz and Baker lakes. 

Mouth of Chesterfield Inlet. 

146. Salix ialsamifera, Barratt. — W. 

West shore of Daly Lake. 

This species was not before known to o^cur north of the 
Saskatchewan River. 



147. Populus ialsamifera, L. — W. 

North shore of Lake Athabasca. 

Limbs, believed to be of this species, were found lying on 

the sand at the forks of the Dubawnt River, having drifted 

down the West Branch to that place. 

148. Populus tremuloides, Michx. — W. 

North shore of Lake Athabasca. 

Esker, near the narrows of Daly Lake. 

The latter locality is the northern limit of the tree in this 
longitude. On the head-waters of the Thlewiaza River it 
was found to range as far north as latitude 60° A few 
small trees were also observed on the raised beaches near 
Fort Churchill.— J. B. T. 


149. Empetrum nigrum, L. — W. B. 
Daly Lake. 
Hinde Lake. 
Carey Lake. 

Loudon Rapids, on Dubawnt River. 
Mouth of Chesterfield Inlet. 
Ashe Inlet, on Hudson Strait. 

Very little fruit was found on the bushes north of the edge 
of the Barren Lands. 


150. Juniperus communis, L. — W. 

Fort Chipewyari, Lake Athabasca. 
Esker, near the middle of Daly Lake. 
North shore of Carey Lake. 

151. Juniperus SaMna, L., var. procumiens, Pursh. — W. 

Fort Chipewyan, Lake Athabasca. 

152. Pinus Banksiana, Lambert. — W. 

On dry sandy or rocky slopes as far north as the north end 
of Selwyn Lake. 



153. Piceo nigra. Link. — W.B. 

North shore of Lake Athabasca. 

Dubawnt River, just below Daly Lake. 

This species occurs in scattered groves down the Dubawnt 
River to Dubawnt Lake. On the shore of Hudson Bay it 
reaches its northern limit at the mouth of Nelson River. 
The most northern examples are spreading shrubs in the 
middle of which may be found a small upright stem four 
or five feet high. — J. B. T. 

154. Picea alia. Link. — W.B. 

North shore of Lake Athabasca. 

The sandy eskers near Hinde and Boyd lakes were thinly 
covered with fine large trees of this spe'cies. Groves of 
large trees were also growing on the wet but well drained 
flats or slopes beside the Dubawnt River down to within a 
short distance of Dubawnt Lake. Many large drifted trunks 
were also found at the forks below this lake. Its northern 
limit on the shore of Hudson Bay is at Little Seal River, 
north of Port Churchill, where it replaces the preceding 
species in the wet swamps near the shore. — J. B. T. 

155. Larix Americana, Michx. — W. B. 

Dubawnt River, as far north as Dubawnt Lake. 
On the shore of Hudson Bay as far north as the mouth of 
Little Seal River, associated with white spruce. — J. B. T. 


156. Bmilacina trifolia, Desf. — W. 

Esker, near middle of Daly Lake. 

157. Maianthemum Canadense, Desf. — W. 

North shore of Lake Athabasca. 

158. Allium 8ch(enoprasum, L. — W. 

North shore of Lake Athabasca. 

159. Tofieldia iorealis, Wahl.—W. B. 

Barlow Lake. 

Loudon Rapids, above the forks of Dubawnt River. 

Fort Churchill. 




160. Orchis rotundifolia, Pursh. — W. 

Fort Churchill. 


161. Luzula spadicea, D.C., var. melanocarpa, Meyer. — B. 

Island near the middle of Boyd Lake. 

162. Luzula campestris, Desf. — B. 

Island near the middle of Boyd Lake. 

163. Luzula campestris, Desf., var. vulgaris. Hook. — B. 

West shore of Dubawnt lake. 


164. Scirpus cmspitosus, L. — B. 

Island near the middle of Boyd Lake. 

165. EriopKorum polystachyon, L. — TV.B. 

West shore of Hinde Lake. 
Island near the middle of Boyd Lake. 
Limestone Island, in Nicholson Lake. 
West shore of Dubawnt Lake. 
Ashe Inlet, on Hudson Strait. 

166. EriopJiorum vaginatum. — W.B. 

I^ker near the middle of Daly Lake. 

167. Eriophorum capitatum. Host. — B. 

Ashe Inlet, on Hudson Strait. 

168. Carex rariflora. Smith, — B. 

Loudon Rapids, above the forks of Dubawnt River. 

169. Carex canescens, L., var. alpicola, Wahl. — TV. 

Dubawnt River, just below Daly Lake. 
Boyd Lake. 

170. Carex misandra, R. Br. — W. B. 

West shore of Hinde Lake. 
Month of Chesterfield Inlet. 



171. Carex aquatilis, Wahl. — W. 

West shore of Hinde Lake. 

172. Carex vulgaris, Pries., var. hyperiorea, Boott. — W. 

Daly Lake. Hinde Lake. 
Boyd Lake. 

173. Carex Magellanica, Lam. — W. 

Esker, near the middle of Daly Lake. 

174. Carex saxatalis, L. — W. 

Hinde Lake. Barlow Lake. 

175. Carex rotundata, Wahl. — B. 

Mouth of Chesterfield Inlet. 


176. EierocUloa alpina, R. & S. — B. 

West shore of Dubawnt Lake. 

Loudon Rapids, above the forks of Dubawnt River. 

Mouth of Chesterfield Inlet. 

177. Arctagrostis latifolia, Griseb. — W. B. 

West shore of Hinde Lake. 

Loudon Rapids, above the forks of Dubawnt River. 

178. Arctophila Laestadii, Rupt. — W. 

West shore of Hinde Lake. 

179. Elymus arenarius, L. — W. 

Black Lake, on Stone River. 

180. Elymus mollis, Trin. — B. 

Dubawnt River, between Schultz and Baker lakes. 
Mouth of Chesterfield Inlet. 

181. Calamagrostis Langsdorffli, Kunth. — W. 

Black Lake on Stone River. 

Esker, near the middle of Daly Lake. 

Dubawnt River, just below Daly Lake. 



182. Galamagrostis Canadensis, Hook. — B. 

Limestone Island, in Nicholson Lake. 

183. Poa alpina, L. — B. 

Loudon Rapids, above the forks of Dubawnt River. 

184. Poa angustata, R. Br. — B. 

Boyd Lake. 

185. Poa cenisia, All. — B. 

Limestone Island, in Nicholson Lake. 

Lioudon Rapids, above the forks of Dubawnt River. 

186 Trisetum subspicatum, Beauv. — W. 

Esker, near the middle of Daly Lake. 


187. Eguisetum Sylvaticum, L. — W. 

Esker, near the middle of Daly Lake. 


188. Polypodium vulgare, L. — W. 

North shore of Lake Athabasca. 

189. Phegopteris Dryopteris, Fee. — B. 

Island near the middle of Boyd Lake. 

190. Aspidium fragrans, Swartz. — W. B. 

Daly Lake. Carey Lake. 

Dubawnt River, between Schultz and Baker Lakes. 

Mouth of Chesterfield Inlet. 

191. Cystopteris fragilis, Bernh. — B. 

Limestone Island, in Nicholson Lake. 
Mouth of Chesterfield Inlet. 

192. Woodsia Ilvensis, R. B. — W. 

North shore of Lake Athabasca. 

Grove of white spruce on the north shore of Carey Lake. 




193. Lycopodiiim annotinttm. L. — W. 

Cracking Stone Point, Lake Athabasca. 
North shore of Carey Lake. 

194. Lycopodium annoiinum, L., var. alpestre, Hartm. — W. 

Dubawnt River, below Daly Lake. 

195. Lycopodium compJonatum, L. — TV. 

West shore of Hinde Lake. 

196. Lycopodium SeJago, L. — B. 

West shore of Dubawnt Lake. 
Ashe Inlet, on Hudson Strait. 


197. Sphagnum fuscum, var. pallcscens, Warnst. — W. 

In swamp on the banks of Dubawnt River, just below Daly 

19S. Sphagnum teneUum, var. i-uieUum, Warnst. — W. 
Dubawnt River, just below Daly Lake. 

199. Spliagnum acutifoUum, Russ & Warnst. — W. 

Dubawnt River, just below Daly Lake. 

200. Dicranum elongatum, Schwaegr. — W. 

Xorth end of Barlow Lake. 

201. Dicranum congestum. Bird. — B. 

West shore of Dubawnt Lake, at the mouth of Dubawnt River. 

202. Dicranum fuscescens. Turn. — B. 

West shore of Dubawnt Liake. at the mouth of Dubawnt River. 

203. Dicranum Bergeri, Bland. — TT. 

West shore of Hinde Lake. 

204. Aulacomium palustre. Schwaegr. — B. 

West shore of Dubawnt Lake, at the mouth of Dubawnt River 
.\she Inlet, on Hudson Strait. 




205. Polytrichum, strictum, Banks. — B. 

West shore of Dubawnt Lake, at the mouth of Dubawnt River. 

206. Wehera nutans, Hedw. — B. 

West shore of Dubawnt Lake, at the mouth of Dubawnt River. 
Ashe Inlet, on Hudson Strait. 

207. Hypnum exannulatum, Guemb. — B. 

West shore of Dubawnt Lake, at the mouth of Dubawnt River. 

208. Hylocomium Schreieri, Willd. — W. 

Dubawnt River, just below Daly Lake. 

209. Hylocomium splendens, Schimp River. — B. 

West shore of Dubawnt Lake, at the mouth of Dubawnt River. 


210. PtiUdum ciliare, Dum. — B. 

West shore of Dubawnt Lake. 


211. Getraria aculeata, Pr. — B. 

West shore of Duhawnt Lake. 

212. Getraria artica, Hook. — B. 

River bank between Nicholson and. Dubawnt lakes. 

213. Getraria Islandica, Ach. — W. B. 

Daly Lake. Hill at the north end of Barlow Lake. 

214. Getraria Islandica, Ach., var. Deliscei, Bor. — W. 

Dubawnt RiVer, just below Daly Lake. 

215. Getraria Richardsonii, Hook. — B. 

West shore of Dubawnt Lake. 

216. Getraria cucullata, Ach. — B. 

North-west angle of Dubawnt Lake. 



217. Cetraria juniperina, Ach., var. Pinastii, Ach. — W. 

Dubawnt River, just below Daly Lake. 

218. Cetraria nivalis, Ach. — W.B. 

Dubawnt River, just below Daly Lake. 
North end of Barlow Lake. 
Ashe Inlet, on Hudson Strait. 

219. Alectoria juliata, L., var. implexa, Fr. — W. 

West shore of Hinde Lake. 

220. Alectoria divergens, Nyl. — W. 

Dubawnt River, just below Daly Lake. 

221. Alectoria ochrolenca, Nyl., var. (a) rigida, Fr.— 

North end of Barlow Lake. 
West shore of Dubawnt Lake. 

222. Parmelia physodes, Ach. — W. 

Dubawnt River, just below Daly Lake. 

223. Parmelia conspersa, Ach.^W. 

Dubawnt River, just below Daly Lake. 

224. Umbilicaria MuJileniergii, Tucherm. — W. 

Dubawnt River, just below Daly Lake. 

225. Nephroma arcticum, Fr. — W. 

West shore of Hinde Lake. 

226. Leeanora tartarea, Ach. — W. 

Dubawnt River, just below Daly Lake. 

227. Stereoeaulon Despreauxii, Nyl. — W. 

Dubawnt River, just below Daly Lake. 

228. Cladonia decorticata, Floerk. — W. 

North end of Barlow Lake. 

229. Cladonia gracilis, Fr., var. elongata, Fr. — W. B. 

Dubawnt River, just below Daly Lake. 
West shore of Dubaunt Lake. 



230. Gladonia rangiferina, Hoffm. — W. 

Dubawnt River, just below Daly Lake. 
North, shore of Barlow Lake. 

231. Cladonia rangiferina, Hoffm., var. sylvatica, L. — W. 

Dubawnt River, just below Daly Lake. 

232. Cladonia cornucopioides, Fr. — W. 

Dubawnt River, just below Daly Lake. 

233. Bomyees aeruginosus, D.C. — W. 

Dubawnt River, just below Daly Liake. 






All Ter-mok-er-mingk. 

All night Knee-en-nah. 

Alwa3-s E-luk-o-she-a. 

Alone In-nu-tu-ak. 

A game Xu-glee-ta. 

A herd Ali-mik-took-too. 

Another Hi-punga. 

All gone Pet-a-hung-e-too. 

Angry Mar-ne-an-nah. 

Afraid Kay-pe-en-nah. 

A while ago .... Tatch-e-munny. 

Ark 0-kow-te-vah-vor. 

Antlers Nug-le-yow. 

Arm Tel-oo. 

Arrow Kok-j'oke. 

All right Co-id-na. 

Are you sleep v ? . Chin-e-gin ? 

Autumn Mow-yah. 

Axe Ooley-moon. 

Bad Pee-ung-e to. 

Bald Ked-juk-yow. 

Barren Lands. . . Nappartu-itok. 

Bear Xtih-nook. 

Big Ung-a-yow-aloo. 

Brother (big) . . . Ung-a-yowk-a- 

Brother (small). . Nung-ayowk-a- 


Black lead Ming-oon-nah. 

Boot Kaniniing. 

Blswik Kunnictah. 

Bring I-ehuc-to. 

Bullet Uchie. 

Bow Pet-e-chee. 

Blood Owk. 

Bones Sow-ner. 

Blubber Owk-zook. 

Beard Oo-mik. 

Beads Sljoong-ow-3'oh. 

Blankets Kep-ig. 

Bite Kee-wah. 

Big River Koog oark. 

Black Moss 


Cap Nich-shaw. 

Cap (for gun) . . . Sheeuek-tow. 

Child Xoo-ta-an. 

Cod-fish Oo-wat. 

Come here Ki-3'eet. 

Cold Ick-kee. 

Coal Kee-youk-cha. 

Clouds Xe-boo yah. 

Clothing An-no-wak. 

Canoe Kj-ack. 

Coat Koo-lee-ta. 


Day before jes- 



Deer sinew . . 




Don't want to . 

Don't lie 

Don't under- 

Don't know 

Do you wish to 
go out ? 


Drink (give me) . 



lek-puck shanee. 


Took- too. 






iSlia^' lo-naw-me. 


Annie-low ? 
Tuck 0-1.0U. 

Ear See-y<.iw tee. 

East Ka ning-nah. 

Early Oo-blah. 

Eat Tun-wah-wa. 

Egg Mun-nee. 

Empty E-mah-ik-took. 

End for end .... Ig-loo-ah-nce. 

Eye Egee. 

Ermine Ter-re-ak. 



Enough Ta-bah. 

Far away Wash-ig^too-aloo. 

Fat Owk-shaw. 

Farewell Ta-bow-e-tee. 

Faster Ook-shoot. 

Father At-at-a. 

Father (my) .... At-at-a-ga. 

Female Ungna. 

Fire lok-o-ma. 

Fish Ick-kal-luek. 

Fox Tar-hed-ne-ah. 

Fur Mit-kote. 

Game {deer, etc. ) 0-ko-ko. 

Go Owd-luck-too! 

Give me Kidj-you. 

Gone Pete-hung-e-too. 

Good Pee-a-uke. 

Glad (I am) .... Pee-a-wee-unga. 

Glove Po-a-low. 

Glad (it will 

make me) .... Pee-a-yow-appy. 
Good morning . . Ah-shu-id-lee. 

Good-bye Ta-bow-a-ting. 

Gun Kook-e-you. 

Goose Ne-uek-a-luck. 

Grave E le-wah. 

Hair of the head Noo-yah. 
Hair of the face. Oo-ming. 
Here (take it) . Awk. 
Here (this place) Man-nee. 

Hat Uck-che-wa-loo. 

Hills Kakka. 

How many ? Katch-ening ? 

House Igloe. 

How do you do 

(salute) ? Ashow-you didlee i 

Well, thank you 

(reply) Ta-bow-you-adlo. 

Halloo Chimo. 

Hot Oo-co. 

Hungry Ka-pa. 

Hungry (they 

are) Kak-too. 

Hard tack Shee-va. 

Ice (salt water). . Se-co. 
Ice (fresh water). Nee-lug. 
Ice (to cut with 

chisel) Too-y-lako. 

Iceberg Pick-a-lulial. 

Ice chisel Too-woke. 

I, me, mine .... Oo-wunga. 

I did not see it . . Tackonaumee. 

I want it Oowung-aloo. 

It is good Pee-auke. 

Island Kig-yuck-ta. 

Island (large) . . . Kack-ec-tuck-dua. 

Iron Sev-wick. 

Ivory Too-wak. 

Indian Ik-kil-lin. 

Jack-knife Pook-ta-you. 

Jump Ob-look-too. 

Just right Nah-muek-too. 

Kick Ish-ec-ma-ac-too. 

King's Cape . . . Telle-pin. 

Knife Chub-beck. 

Kill To-ko-pah-hah. 

Kiss Coon-e-glee. 

Laugh Ig-luck-too. 

Land Noo-na. 

Land (main) . , . Eel-a-wee-yun. 

Lake Siseell. 

Large Unga-you. 

Last year Uek-kaw-nee. 

Lead Uck-e-chu. 

Live (reside) Noona-gin. 

Look at it Taek-o-waok. 

Line Ud-le-ung. 

Little Mick-a-you. 

Little River .... Koogah-la. 

Long ago Tap-shoo-mann-nee. 

Loon Kok-saw. 

Man Ung-oon. 

Make Sen-a-you. 

Me Oo-wunga. 

Meat Pak-too. 

M atches Icko-ma. 

Medicine man . Ang-e-koke. 

Mine Pie-ga. 

Mica Ked-lucke-yack. 

Moon Tuck-ee. 

Morning Ood-la. 

Mouse Ah-ving-ea. 

Musk-ox Oo-ming-munk. 

Much Am-e-suit. 

Mountain King-yi. 


Near (very) . . 
Near (rather) . 

Koon e-took-e- 



Next year Uck-kak-go. 

Needle Mit-oone. 

No Au-guy, Nowk. 

North ...... . Wungna. 

North Star Nicky-chewe too. 

Now Man-nah. 

Night Oo-din-nook. 

Oar E-poot. 

Old man Ick-too-aloo. 

Old woman Ning-e-wah-loo. 

One Attowsha. 

One more At ta-loo. 

On the other side Igloe-annie. 
Out of doors .... Seel-a-me. 
Open the door . . Mat-a-wa-goo. 

Only one Ta-but-tua. 

Over there Ti-ma. 

Paper Al-le-lay-yook. 

Perhaps Shug-a-rae. 

Pork Ook-e-mara. 

Powder Uck-dua. 

Presently ..... Wet-chow. 
Pretty Mahmuk-poo. 

Quick Tu-quilee. 







Reindeer horns . 
Reindeer (fawn) . 
Reindeer (young 

buck ) 











River (big) 


















Ti-ma- too. 

Seal (fresh water) Kaus-e^ 
Seal (square flip- 
per) ■. • • 

Seal (jumping) . . 







Spear (seal) .... 
Shut the door . . 
Something to eat 




Small (very) . . , . 







Spear (to kill 




Short time ago . . 







Spy glass 

Swap (trade) 




Snow house 



Smoke (verb) . . . 
Smoke (give me). 

Snow stick ... . 

Same Ti-ma-too. 

Seal (small) Poe-see. 

Seal Net-chuck. 





























Ne yowk-a-loong-a. 
Ok-ke lay yook. 


Take Pe-e-ock-i-re. 

Tent To-pick. 

Teeth Kee-you. 

Thimble Teck-kin. 

Thunder Kud-loo. 

Tide rising lU-e-pook. 



Tide falling .... Tine-e-pook. 

To-day Ood-loome. 

To-night Ood-la. 

To-morrow Kow-pung. 

The other day . . Tatoh-e-munny. 

Tongue Ook-ah. 

Trade Ok-ke-lay-loo. 

Tracks Too-me. 

Trousers Kod-llng. 

Thank you Koo-id-na-mik. 

Thread Ib-e-loo. 

Tell Kow-yow-ya. 

That will do ... . Ta-ba. 

Throw Me-loo-e-ak-took. 

Ugly Pene-took. 

Understand .... Kow-e-me-yow. 
Up Ta-pau-ney. 



Warmth (per- 


Walrus hide . . 



Wake up 

What is that ? 

What do 3'ou 
want for it ? . 

What are you 
making ? . . . . 

What ? 



When do you go 



Who owns it ? 



White man . . . . 





Will you ? . . . . 


Wood . 




. Oo-ko fling ah. 

■ I-byl. 

. Kow. 

. Watth-ow. 

, Too-pook-poo. 

Kiss-yowa ? 

Kiss-yow-ok-a la- 

Kiss-yow-livie ? 

Shua ? 

Xow te niee. 


. U-va-gut. 
. Kee-a. 
Kun-we-mun ? 
E-ben-loo ? 

Woman's boat . . Oo-me-ack. 

Wolf Am-miow. 

Work Sen a-yow. 

White gull Now-yah. 




Yesterday even- 


You and I . . 
Young boy . 
Young girl . 
Youngster . . 



lb-bee (or Ich-bin). 


One At-tow-sha. 

Two Mok-oo. 

Three Ping-ah-suet. 

Four Seet-a-mut. 

Five Ted-le-mut. 

Six Uck-bin-e-gin. 

Seven Uck-bin-e-Mok-o- 

Eight Uek-bin-e-Mok-o- 

Nine Uck-bin-e-seet-a- 


Ten Koling. 

Twenty Mok-ko-ling. 

Come in 

Go ahead 

Give me a light . 
Give me a drink. 
Give me a smoke 

It is good .... 
I don't know . 
I don't under- 

What is the 
name of ? . . . 

What are you 
making?. . .. 

Which way ? . . 

Where from ? . 

Where do you 
come from ! 

Who is it?. ... 





. Pee-a-uke. 
. Shu-ga-mee. 



. I-ting-er? 

. Shu-la- vik ? 
. Nel-le-ung nook y 
Nuck-ke-nu-nah ? 

Nuck-ke-pe-wict ? 
. Kee-now-yah ?